Tag archive for "FAFSA"

FAFSA, Money

College Application Checklist

No Comments 10 January 2018

Applying to college sounds like a long and tedious process – we know! We write about it all the time. There are ways to make it easy on yourself, though, starting with using a smart and thorough checklist that keeps you on track. Below, we’ve placed several aspects of applications to colleges that are super common, but we recommend making a checklist for each one that you apply to because what you need varies for each application. 

Do you have the right deadline? Sure, this may sound like a given, but you’re likely applying to multiple colleges (or at least you should be) and that means there are a lot of dates rattling around up in your noggin. Do yourself and your exhausted brain a favor: take ten minutes and write down each college, along with the due date for the application. Bonus points for listing out everything you need for that application!

Is your essay ready to go? A college application essay can give colleges a taste of who you are outside of your grades. It’s an important part of helping you stand out from the hundreds, and commonly thousands, of other applicants, so write a (typically formal) essay that’s got your own brand of personality embedded it.

Do you have recommendation letters? Recommendation letters are a huge boost to your application. These typically come from teachers who understand your academic capabilities and dedication as a student, but it’s key that they know you as an individual, as well. Consider your extracurricular or athletic teachers when deciding who to ask for recommendations from, since they’ve likely seen you in and out of class.

Have you applied for financial aid yet? You need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as “FAFSA,” in order to be considered. If you are unsure how to go about this, we offer several articles that may answer your questions! Check out these two, here and here. If you prefer the face-to-face, one-on-one approach to figuring out your financial aid, reach out to your guidance counselor. In our experience, they know pretty much everything.

Like we said earlier, each college you apply to will have different requirements, but this is a good standard list. Always reach out to your guidance counselor, a friend, or a mentor if you need help through this process. And, of course, we at College Greenlight will always be here to help! If you have questions, submit them to us and we’ll do our best to answer them thoroughly!


Choosing A School, College Greenlight Features

The Green Light on Cooper Union!

No Comments 11 December 2017

In theatre, it’s about the lime light. Over here at College Greenlight, we include a lot more than just lime in our color palette. Every week we try to shine our green light (get it?) onto deserving institutions that our students might be interested in. This week, we spoke with Makeda King-Smith, the Assistant Director of Admissions and Records at Cooper Union! Located in the Big Apple, this privately-funded college has a unique way of doing things!

What makes your institution stand out from others students may be considering?

The Cooper Union is a unique institution for many reasons. One thing that sets us apart from other schools is that our academic programs are very specialized and focused. We are a small school located in New York City and offer three programs for undergraduates: art, architecture, and engineering.  Cooper is a great match for students who have a clear sense of the field they wish to pursue.  We’re proud of our intimate environment driven by the relationship between passionate students and faculty.

What support services or diversity initiatives do you offer to first-gen, low-income, and/or underrepresented students?

Cooper is a small and inclusive community that is student-centered. We strive to create a space where students of all backgrounds and experiences feel welcomed, included, and empowered to create change on campus. We are always thinking of more ways to improve inclusion and student involvement on campus. One recent change was the removal of all gendered signs from our restrooms. This effort was  pioneered by a group of students and supported by Cooper’s administration. Another more recent example of improving inclusion on campus was the creation of our Diversity Task Force. This Diversity and Inclusion Task Force was tasked with examining diversity and inclusion at Cooper in order to develop an actionable plan that promotes inclusive practices across all facets of Cooper’s operations, pedagogy, and student support. We are also proud that Cooper Union students comprise many working committees on campus and even sit on our Board of Trustees! These are just a few examples of ways in which we support diversity and student inclusion at Cooper Union.

What should College Greenlight students know about financial aid at your institution?

At Cooper Union, our admissions process is completely need-blind, meaning we do not consider a student’s financial circumstances during the admissions review. When applying, students are evaluated on merit alone, not their ability to pay for school. We award all undergraduate students admitted to Cooper Union a half-tuition scholarship, currently valued at $21,625.  This scholarship renews every semester of a student’s program as long they complete their program on-time. Students will automatically be considered for additional merit-based scholarships when they apply; no additional application is required. Additionally significant, many of our students qualify for need-based financial aid after completing a FAFSA application. This aid helps to cover remaining tuition, books, supplies, housing, etc.

What does your institution’s campus and its surrounding area have to offer students? (Cultural opportunities, outdoor recreation, athletics)

Cooper Union is a small school in a big city. We capitalize on the fact we are located in the East Village with Manhattan as our campus. From galleries and museums to movie sets and theaters, there is never a shortage of things to do and see in our neighborhood. In addition to all of the offerings of Manhattan, we have lots going on at Cooper Union. With over 90 clubs, there are many ways for students to get involved on campus and outside of the classroom. Our historic Great Hall regularly hosts world-renowned politicians, activists and artists through programs that are free to students.

What else should students and counselors know that we should highlight in our post?

Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by industrialist Peter Cooper who at that time in our nation’s history, had the radical notion that education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, or immigration status. Cooper Union is still firmly rooted in its commitment to providing a high quality education that is accessible to all regardless of demographic.


Pay for College, Resources

Spotlight on Ladder Up

No Comments 17 March 2017

Ladder Up is a community-based organization that provides people with resources and opportunities to move up the economic ladder. This organization provides participants with free programs to help students obtain financial aid to make their college dreams a reality.

This program is based in Chicago and visits local high schools — mainly Chicago public schools and charter schools — to give presentations on financial aid. With its Life-Improving Financial Tools (LIFT), Ladder Up helps participants and their families create a foundation for economic self-sufficiency. The sub-programs, Higher Education Access Initiative (HEAI) and Financial Literacy Program, help participants to secure financial aid for college and gain the appropriate skills to make smart financial choices. Participants learn about FAFSA, award letters, student loans, college finances and personal statements. One-on-one counseling also is offered for parents and students. Ladder Up offers counseling year-round for those who need it.

Students and parents alike can learn about financial aid opportunities through Ladder Up. Participants walk away with follow-up information about award letters, student loans and college finances. They also will learn how to successfully fill out the FAFSA. Keep an eye on Ladder Up’s website to see if they are hosting an event near you.

Ladder Up encourages financial responsibility going into college. Follow their mantra and check out your College Greenlight profile for the newest scholarships you are eligible for. College Greenlight regularly has been a beneficial scholarship resource for Ladder Up students.

FAFSA, Grants, Money, Scholarships

FAFSA and Financial Aid Tips for Low-Income Students

No Comments 23 February 2017

If you come from a low-income household, paying for college can be intimidating. Take a look at these tips financial aid and FAFSA tips to receive the most aid you are eligible for.

Apply for the FAFSA early. More than a dozen states award grants on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that the later you apply, the less likely you are to receive grants. Only about 33 percent of low-income students file the FAFSA during the first three months of application season. This is compared to 58 percent of middle-income students and more than 71 percent of high-income students. For this reason, low-income students tend to miss out on billions of dollars in grants by filing the FAFSA too late.

Use the IRS data retrieval tool. You must fill out more than 100 questions on the FAFSA – that can be intimidating if you do not understand each question. That is where the IRS data retrieval tool comes in. This tool will pull information from your tax returns and input them directly onto your FAFSA application.

Seek out free money. There is no limit on how many scholarships you can apply to. The more scholarships a student receives, the less their total out-of-pocket cost will be for college. We are always updating the College Greenlight scholarship database, so be sure to always check in on your scholarship matches. You should also look into grant partnerships between colleges you are considering and organizations to maximize how much money you receive.

Consider work-study. The work-study program is based on financial need and provides an opportunity to earn money to that will help cover college expenses. The amount you earn will depend on how much you decide to work. But it is important to keep in mind that this money won’t be available to pay tuition at the beginning of the semester, but will instead help to cover ongoing expenses throughout the year.

Ask for help. There are multiple free sources you can utilize for help with filling out the FAFSA. Your counselor will be a great resource for any questions you or your parents may have. The U.S. Department of Education sponsors a toll-free hotline (1-800-433-3243) that can answer any questions you may have about student aid and the FAFSA.

FAFSA, Federal Loans, Grants, Merit Aid, Money, Private Loans, Scholarships, State Loans

Understanding Your Financial Aid Letter

No Comments 20 February 2017

When you’re accepted to a college, you’ll receive a letter explaining the financial aid package you are awarded.

These letters are sometimes filled with terms you might not be familiar with. You need to make sure you understand what your financial aid letter offers before you accept any part of it.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You will be told about grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans. Grants and scholarships are funds that you never have to repay. Work-study is government funding that you earn by working a qualifying job on or off campus. Federal-student loans are borrowed money that’s taken out through the government that you will repay.
  • The cost of attendance (COA), which is what you can expect to pay for tuition, fees and room and board, also will be included. Additional expenses, such as textbooks, transportation and basic necessities, are not included in this cost. Tip: You cannot rely on this estimate beyond your freshman year. The cost of attendance is not fixed and does not take potential tuition increases into account.
  • An important aspect of your financial aid is the expected family contribution (EFC). This number, based on information from your FAFSA, estimates how much you and your family can afford to pay for college out of pocket.
  • It’s important to note that you don’t have to accept all the terms of your financial aid letter. You can decline things such as work-study and loans. Make sure to ask the right questions before you accept your letter and find the average student loan debt for each school you are accepted to. Ask how many graduates find a job in their field within six months because that is when the grace period for student loans typically ends.
  • Check to see if you can expect the same scholarships every year as well. Keep your College Greenlight profile up to date so you can find scholarships to help with college expenses.

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