How I Learned to Navigate Financial Aid
Financial aid isn’t that difficult to figure out, though it can be complicated. What is a subsidized loan? What is an unsubsidized loan? What is work study? At the beginning of my college journey, I asked myself these questions and then some. My parents and high school teachers stayed on me and repeatedly reminded me of the importance of applying for financial aid. I was just a kid that barely knew anything about it.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand financial aid a little bit more. After reapplying for FASFA every year and applying for scholarships, I should really feel like an expert, though I don’t. Here are some tips I followed that helped me navigate financial aid.
Read Up on It
There is no better way to learn about something than reading up on it. Go to different financial aid websites, browse the FAFSA website and find information you’re wanting or needing to know. Even a quick google search should get you to some good information, but most of what you need can be found on one website.
Apply for FAFSA
Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify or if you’ve been told you won’t, go ahead and apply anyway. Filling out the application gives you a great understanding of how the financial aid process works and what kind of information contributes to how much aid you receive or if you receive any at all. The worst that can happen is you get denied need-based aid due to your family’s income. Even then, you can still apply for scholarships if you’re in need of more money for school.
Speak with a Financial Aid Representative at your School
If after reading about financial aid and browsing the FAFSA website, you still don’t understand, talk with someone in the financial aid department at your school. If you’re in high school, call the college you’re considering attending and speak with someone there. They should have more than enough information on financial aid to help you understand it better. Schedule a meeting if you have to and they can go over the different types of aid, as well as what you need to do to apply. They can also go over eligibility and academic requirements to receive financial aid. Personally, I go to the financial aid office, or speak with someone there at least two times a semester to make sure everything looks good, or if I have any issues. They’re pretty quick handling disputes or answering my questions.
Check out your College’s Financial Aid Website
Every college has a financial aid website. Make sure to look it over to find any information you may need. They should have descriptions of the different types of aid available, scholarship opportunities, cost of living on or off campus, and more.
There is a ton of information on financial aid. The good news is that most of the information you need can be found easily and on trusted websites like FAFSA or your University’s website. Financial aid is so important to a college education, and if you look, you are bound to find helpful information.