Tag archive for "Financial Aid"

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.

Undocumented Students

California DREAM Act Applications Decrease 64 Percent

No Comments 10 February 2017

Applications for the California DREAM Act have plummeted by 64 percent in the 2017-2018 school year.

Concern about immigration reform by the Trump administration could partially be to blame for the decrease of 21,842 applications from the 2016-2017 academic year. So far, California has received 12,299 applications for the 2017-2018 school year. In 2016-2017, it received 34,141.

Applications close on March 2.

The California DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Minors) is a California law that allows some children who immigrated to the U.S. to receive state financial aid. To qualify, a student must have been brought to the U.S. when they were less than 16 years of age and lacked proper immigration paperwork. As long as a student attended high school on a regular basis, is AB540 eligible and meets in-state tuition and GPA requirements, he or she may be eligible for state financial aid.

The California Department of Education responded to the decrease by releasing this statement, which reinforces the fact the department does not reveal a student’s immigration status: “The California Student Aid Commission has not now, or in the past, shared any information which would indicate a student’s immigration status, either documented or undocumented. The California Student Aid Commission also adheres to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.”

No matter what happens at the federal level, the state of California has ensured students that their state financial aid will remain legal. Losing federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status will not affect most financial aid. The California DREAM Act is separate from the federal government.

If you are eligible for the California DREAM Act and have concerns, contact the California Student Aid Commission at 916-464-8271 or the California Department of Education, College Preparation and Postsecondary Programs Office, Career and College Transition Division at 916-323-6398.

Diversity, Undocumented Students

College Options for Undocumented Students

No Comments 08 February 2017

Although there is no federal law that requires proof of citizenship to be admitted to U.S. colleges, undocumented students face their own set of hurdles in the application process. Here are some institutions and states that make college more attainable for undocumented students.

Private Colleges that Accept Undocumented Students as Domestic Students

Many colleges consider undocumented students to be international students, which means that undocumented students might have to compete with other international students for a limited pool of financial aid. But, when a college considers an undocumented student to be domestic, the student will be more likely to receive a good financial aid package.

The following private colleges have public policies on their acceptance of undocumented students as domestic students:

  1. Pomona College (Claremont, Calif.)
  2. Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)
  3. Tufts University (Medford, Mass.)
  4. Emory University (Atlanta)

States That Offer Undocumented Students In-State Tuition

Undocumented students, including students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. However, undocumented students may be eligible for state student financial aid in some states.

Undocumented students who attended high school for at least the last two years in certain states could be eligible for in-state tuition. As of 2015, the following states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. Florida
  5. Illinois
  6. Kansas
  7. Maryland
  8. Minnesota
  9. Nebraska
  10. New Jersey
  11. New Mexico
  12. New York
  13. Oregon
  14. Texas
  15. Utah
  16. Washington

A number of these states also allow undocumented students to receive state-level financial aid. Reach out to college financial aid offices to learn more.

Colleges That Meet 100 Percent of Financial Need for Undocumented Students

College Greenlight has a list of more than 30 colleges that meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for undocumented students. These colleges pledge to meet a student’s full need through grants, student employment, scholarships, and, in some cases, student loans. Schools on this list vary in the ways they meet undocumented students’ demonstrated financial need.

Apply to College, Diversity, First Generation Students, Resources

College Application Tips for First-Generation Students

No Comments 01 February 2017

Resources for first-generation college students are abundant — you just need to know where to look. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the college-application process.

Attend Fly-In Programs and College Fairs

It’s vital to know about a college before you apply. Seeing a campus in person is drastically different than experiencing it behind a computer screen.

Traveling to a college for a campus visit can get expensive, so some colleges offer fly-in programs to curb costs for prospective students. These programs cover transportation and allow you to see the school for yourself.

If a fly-in program is out of the question, attending a local college fair is a great alternative. Although you won’t be able to experience a college in-person, this gives you the opportunity to talk to a representative from that institution.

Research

If you have questions related to the college-application process, don’t be afraid to Google. Look up any terms on an application that you are unfamiliar with.

If you need further assistance, email or call an admission counselor. They can break down application requirements and financial aid into easy-to-follow steps. Once you have narrowed down your college list, search for “first-generation students” on a college’s website to see what resources are available.

Sign Up for a Summer Program

A summer program is the best way to learn about a college’s culture and curriculum. First-generation students can feel out of place at college. Attending a summer program can ease the transition to college and ensure students are up for the challenge of college courses. Not every summer program provides financial aid to its participants, so take a look at this list of programs that do.

Ask For Help

Although your parents may not be able to guide you through this process, you don’t have to go through it alone. Share your goals with your family. They can offer emotional support and assist you in finding another family member, friend or organization that can to provide you with financial support or answer questions. Organizations like I’m First guide first-generation college students through this process.

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