Figuring out financial aid can be a tricky process, and many students don’t know where to begin. Each year, students who are eligible for Pell Grants and Federal Loans miss out on these opportunities, and others, when they do not fill out their FAFSA on time. Your College Success Team wants to help you out!

If you are struggling to fill out your FAFSA, understand your aid report, or cover a financial aid gap, contact your College Success Coach for help!

FAFSA: FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is simply a form you fill out which compiles your family’s financial information to determine financial aid eligibility. Submitting the FAFSA is FREE, and is the method to become eligible for federal aid. Your FAFSA information will be sent to your college, who will process the information and compile your financial aid reward. Fill out your FAFSA here.

EFC: Expected Family Contribution. The expected family contribution is calculated by a specific formula to assess how much your family is expected to contribute. This is not how much your family will pay. It is simply a calculation made used to determine eligibility.

Financial Aid Package: This is a comprehensive report generated by your college which outlines all financial aid options for which you qualify, and for how much.

Cost of Attendance: This is the estimate provided by your school for how much it will cost you to attend school, usually for the year. This includes allowances for room & board, books, transportation, supplies, and more. The cost of attendance varies, and is not necessarily how much it will cost you to go to college.

Enrollment status: Indicates the amount of credits a student is enrolled in: full time, three quarter time, half time, less than half time, withdrawn, etc.

Federal Pell Grant: The Federal Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduates receiving their first Bachelor’s degree. The maximum Pell Grant award for financial aid year 2018-2019 is $5,920. However, the amount awarded will depend on student need, enrollment status, cost of attendance, and more. Students are eligible to receive the Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters, so please keep this in mind & choose your classes wisely.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant: The Federal SEOG Grant is awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need. The amount awarded will depend on student need and the amount of funds available at the student’s school.

Teacher Education Assistance for College & Higher Education Grant: TEACH Grants are available for students who intend to teach in elementary or secondary schools serving students from low-income families. This may turn into a loan if service requirements are not fulfilled. The maximum award amount for financial aid year 2018-2019 is $4,000.

  • As a condition for the TEACH Grant, you must sign a TEACH Grant agreement for service in a high-need field, at an elementary, secondary, or educational service agency serving low-income families, for at least 4 academic years within 8 years after completing the course of study for which you received the grant.
  • Contact the school’s financial aid office to determine whether they offer TEACH Grant eligible programs.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants: These grants are available for students whose parents/guardians were Armed Forces members who died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11th, 2001. To qualify, a student must have been under the age of 24, or enrolled in college, at the time of the parent/guardian’s death. The maximum award amount for financial aid year 2016-2017 is $5,529.

Federal Work Study Program: Provides an opportunity for students to gain work experience while earning money during the school year. Schools provide work-study funds on a first come, first serve basis. Contact your school to learn more about work-study eligibility and options.

Federal Direct Loan Program: Another low-interest loan option from the federal government. Options include subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford loans, as well as PLUS loans.

Interest: An expense charged for the cost of borrowed money through loans. This is calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Other forms of financial aid include financial aid from your school, state government aid, scholarships, grants, and military aid. Students should contact their school’s financial aid office by searching their financial aid website, and check their school’s financial aid report to figure out what types of aid are offered by their college. Many private scholarship and grant options can be found online, but the student will have to search and apply for these.

Financial Aid FAQs:

My parents make too much/I don’t live with my parents/My parents do not help me pay for school. Can I file my FAFSA as independent?

In order to apply for financial aid as independent, a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
  • Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, in foster care or was a ward of the court when 13 years or older;
  • Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or serving on active duty for other than training purposes;
  • Be a graduate or professional student;
  • Be a married individual;
  • Have legal dependents other than a spouse;
  • Be an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship;
  • Be a homeless youth;
  • Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.

My parents are undocumented. Can I fill out the FAFSA?

If you are a documented US Citizen, but your parents are not, you can still fill out your FAFSA. You will need to fill in all 0’s for your parent’s social security number.

When should I fill out my FAFSA?

Even if you aren’t enrolled in college or even if you aren’t sure whether you will attend, you should fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible! This year, the FAFSA will be available October 1st!