Tag archive for "FAFSA"

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.

College Spotlight

Get to Know Becker College

No Comments 02 February 2017

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If you are looking for a top-notch college that emphasizes the importance of social justice, look no further than Becker College.

Located in Worcester and Leicester, Mass., Becker College has been listed for five-consecutive years by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges. Becker is home to nationally recognized programs in nursing, animal studies and video-game design.

It also features programs in business, criminal justice and legal studies, design, education, psychology and liberal arts.

With locations in two cities, Becker students have the opportunity to experience two different cultures. Worcester is the second-largest city in New England. Students can enjoy museums, sporting events, entertainment and more than 100 restaurants within walking distance of campus. Leicester is a quintessential New England town that allows students to soak up its history and culture.

More than 95 percent of accepted students receive some form of academic scholarship.  Students who submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) also are eligible for additional need-based institutional grants.

Becker treats its vision and mission as seriously as its academic curriculum. Becker is dedicated to molding its students to become highly educated and responsible citizens who are ready to contribute to society. This vision has led to Becker being recognized by Leading Women of Massachusetts in its Salute to Companies That Are Leading Women to the Top.

The college offers a learning experience that is anchored by academic excellence, social responsibility and creative expression. Becker has an 89 percent placement rate for its graduates in employment or areas of further study. An education at Becker College allows graduates to rise to the top of their chosen professions.

If Becker sounds like the right place for you, learn more at its College Greenlight profile.

FAFSA, Money

Introducing the Streamlined FAFSA

No Comments 16 January 2017

Multiple organizations understand that the FAFSA application process is complicated and may present barriers to college access for many students. For this reason, the National College Access Network (NCAN) has created the Streamlined FAFSA. The FAFSA is a free a universal form for students to fill out in order to apply for financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. NCAN’s model eliminates unnecessary and redundant questions in order to maintain FAFSA’s original purpose, which is to serve as the premier and free form to apply for financial aid.

Applying for the FAFSA is a complicated process, with only about 44 percent of students completing the form. This means about $24 billion goes unclaimed in federal aid, which includes $2.7 billion in Pell Grants. NCAN recognizes that there are several barriers for students completing the FAFSA. Chief among them is a lack of understanding the application process, overly complex questions and the length of the FAFSA. These issues cause barriers for many applicants, especially first-generation students.

The Streamlined FAFSA eliminates these issues by providing a shortened series of eligibility and demographic questions for applicants. An updated Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and expanded access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) allows many identifying and financial questions to be automatically filled in, which saves the applicant time and reduces errors.

The Streamlined FAFSA reduces the number of questions by guiding students down one of three paths. Pathway one has as few as 20 questions for applicants from families who receive benefits from eligible federal means-tested programs. This means that these individuals automatically can skip all financial questions and receive the maximum Pell Grant award.

Pathway two has no more than 23 questions for applicants who do not participate in means-tested benefit programs and do not file a schedule with their taxes. Pathway three includes 25 questions for students who file tax schedules with their taxes.

NCAN’s Streamlined FAFSA is outperforming the current FAFSA. Independent testing of the NCAN model shows a 56 percent lower error rate, a 39 percent improvement in completion times and 50 percent fewer questions to answer.

Transparency has been increased and uncertainty is reduced in the FAFSA filing process because of the streamlined FAFSA. This model could increase Pell Grant expenditures by nearly 5.1 percent and increase FAFSA completion by 7.4 percent.

With 85 percent of four-year college students receiving financial aid, a simplified FAFSA application process is vital. The streamlined FAFSA could ensure that needy students have the access to financial aid.

Resources

Foster Youth Lack Access to College

No Comments 15 November 2016

According to a report from the Education Commission of the States, Strengthening Policies for Foster Youth Postsecondary Attainment, only 3 percent of the 415,000 children in foster care will ever graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree, compared with 32.5 percent of the U.S. population aged 25 and older. Only 46 percent of foster youth graduate from high school, compared with 88.4 percent of the U.S. population aged 25 and old.

There have been some improvements in financial aid for foster youth. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 established the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP). The Education Training Vouchers program was added to CFCIP in 2002. The 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (FCA) also improved college access for foster children. Changes were made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in July 2009 to help foster children.

The Education Training Voucher (ETV) program provides up to $5,000 per year for college students who are in foster care, were adopted from foster care after reaching age 16, or aged out of foster care. They must have obtained a high school diploma or GED, reapply annually and maintain satisfactory academic progress. The funds are available for enrollment in a 2-year or 4-year college or university or for enrollment in accredited vocational and technical training programs. Eligible students may receive grants for up to five years or until they reach age 23. Apply through your state’s Child Welfare Agency. Some state programs are administered by Foster Care to Success.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) considers students to be independent if they were in foster care at any time after reaching age 13. These students are considered to be independent even if they were adopted at age 13 or older. The FAFSA also includes other questions designed to identify foster children so that they can be directed to resources available to them.

There are also scholarships and tuition waivers available to foster children. The state tuition waivers usually involve just tuition and not other costs, such as textbooks and living expenses.

The report from the Education Commission of the States made several recommendations for helping foster children pursue a college education:

  • Expand foster care to cover students beyond age 18 who are enrolled in college
  • Eliminate tuition waiver requirements that are particularly challenging for foster children, such as requirements for financial contributions, volunteer service or maintaining a higher GPA than is required for federal student aid
  • Standardize eligibility criteria across states, with regard to age, deadlines, types of colleges, etc.
  • Expand state tuition waivers to cover other costs, such as textbooks, housing, transportation and childcare.

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