Financial Aid Mistakes

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Not having an understanding of how the financial aid process works can cost you a fortune.  The major mistake many people make is waiting to late start the process.  I feel parents should begin educating themselves on this process in their student’s freshman year of high school.  Knowledge is power.  The more knowledge, you gain in these areas the more benefits and options you have.   Do not allow yourself to make the following mistakes:

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  1. Waiting too late to start the process:  Remember, the early bird gets the worm.  The longer you procrastinate, the fewer options you have.  Preparation should begin in your student’s freshman year of high school.
  2. Assume you make too much money: No matter your salary you should apply for aid because if you do not get anything from the federal government, you may qualify for campus- based scholarships which may require filing the FAFSA.
  3. Not researching and making a timeline for institutional scholarship deadlines: It is important to keep track of when things are due. College deadlines vary. Keep a calendar of key deadline dates and file ahead of due dates.
  4. Not educating yourself on the financial aid process and key terms: You need to have an understanding of terms like EFC, grants, loans, subsidized, unsubsidized.
  5. Failure to research what your state has to offer: Many states offer grants and scholarships for their residents.  You should familiarize yourself with this information early.
  6. Neglecting to read the college’s financial aid page: So many questions can be answered if students would take time to research the college website.
  7. Not having the important conversation with your student about the reality of the cost of college, what they bring to the table academically and whether or not you can afford it.
  8. Misinterpreting what your award letter is really saying: Whatever conclusions you draw from your award letter call the financial office to confirm.
  9. Failure to discuss special circumstances: If your financial picture has changed significantly from the original filing of the FAFSA, contact the financial administrator of your school.  Schools may have forms for special circumstances on their website.
  10. Not appealing your aid package: Financial aid award packages are not set in stone.  If you feel that the package will not work for you then you need to let them know.  Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Is there anything else you can do for me”?

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