Students are often confused about the process of applying for financial aid, and do not realize it may take a while for the school to process their award package. Read on to learn more about the steps you should take to keep on track.

  • Even before your senior year of college, and throughout your time in school, you can apply for scholarships and grants. These are a great source for funding that will help cover your financial aid gap, and save you money you might have taken out in loans. No scholarship is too small! Search online for scholarships and grants that you qualify for.
  • The first step for finding out what federal aid you qualify for is filling out your FAFSA. DO NOT wait until the last minute to fill out your FAFSA, otherwise you might not have your funds by the time classes start, which makes things harder on you in the end!
    • Most undocumented students do not have a social security number, which means that you will not be able to complete your FAFSA. DACA students do have a social security number, but should check with their College Success Coach or other adviser before deciding whether to fill out the FAFSA.
  • Students can start filling out their FAFSA on October 1st. Visit fafsa.gov to apply today.
    • If you need help filling out your FAFSA, check out our FAFSA guidelines, or contact your College Success Coach!
  • After filling out your FAFSA, you will reach a page that summarizes your student aid report. This is a summary of the information you filled out on your FAFSA, and it will include your expected family contribution, as well as your estimated eligibility for federal grants and loans. While this is not an award package from your college, it does outline your eligibility and can help you form an idea of what type of aid you might be offered. Your FAFSA may take up to 3-5 days to process.
  • Your college will then receive your FAFSA information and will use this to determine your financial aid package. After filling out your FAFSA, you should check your email (including your SCHOOL email address), and your student center/student account (if you have been accepted to a college).
    • If your college needs extra verification information to process your financial aid award, they may reach out to you through email or your student center, or might post a checklist item in your to-do list.
  • If you are concerned about your financial aid package or whether your information has been processed, call your school’s financial aid office. They will be able to let you know whether they have all of your information, and what you should expect to do next.
  • Once you receive your financial aid package/award from your college, you will need to accept your award. Be sure to read through all types of aid available to determine whether you choose to accept those. You do not have to accept all aid available to you, and can choose to accept a portion of loans.
  • Stay in contact with your school’s financial aid office to determine whether you have any financial aid gaps, outstanding balance, etc. It never hurts to call, and sometimes you have to be your own advocate!
  • If you are unsure about your aid package, or have a financial aid gap that you don’t know how to cover, contact your College Success Coaches and we will be happy to work with you to figure out your options!