Understanding the Financial Aid Process: A Quick Guide 🤝
The financial aid process is confusing and overwhelming not to mention stressful! 📚 With the 24/25 FAFSA opening up next month I’m sure you have a lot of questions. 💰 So, I’m going to break it down for you in 5 simple steps.
🔹 Step 1: FAFSA or CSS Profile 📝
To get started, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and in some cases (if the college requires it), the CSS Profile. These forms gather information about your family’s financial situation. The FAFSA is the most common and is used for federal and state aid, while the CSS Profile is often used for institutional aid.
🔹 Step 2: Expected Family Contribution (EFC) soon to be call the Student Aid Index (SAI) 💡
After you’ve submitted the forms, they’ll determine your Student Aid Index. This is the number colleges will use to determine your financial aid awards. Colleges subtract the SAI from their Cost of Attendance to come up with students’ financial need and then they meet anywhere from 30%-100% of that financial need, this varies from college to college.
🔹 Step 3: Aid Packages 📦
Once your EFC/SAI is determined, your school’s financial aid office will put together a financial aid package. This package may include grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans. Grants and scholarships are the best because they don’t need to be repaid, but loans will need to be paid back eventually.
🔹 Step 4: Review and Compare 👀
Review the financial aid offers from the schools you’re considering. Look at the types and amounts of aid they’re offering and compare the total cost of attendance. This will help you make an informed decision about which school is the most affordable.
🔹 Step 5: Acceptance and Disbursement 💳
After you’ve made your decision, you’ll need to accept the financial aid package. The aid will typically be disbursed directly to the school to cover tuition, fees, and other educational expenses.
Remember, deadlines are crucial, so don’t procrastinate! Start the process early to ensure you don’t miss out on potential aid.
And if you’re the parent of a high school senior and this is your first time navigating the financial aid process check out my FAFSA & Financial Aid Academy. The Academy will guide you step by step through the financial aid process and help you maximize your aid offers. You can learn more about the Academy here.
Good luck on your journey to higher education! 🌟