In this article I will be talking about how to get college financial aid & how to make sure/negotiate the amount of aid given. Every undergraduate and graduate college student in the United Stated is eligible to receive financial assistance.
There are two main types of financial aid awarded; merit based and need based. Merit based aid is usually awarded solely based on a student’s academic or athletic performance and is awarded by the school’s admission board. Need based aid, on the other hand, is awarded based on a student’s financial need. Need based aid is determined by the college’s financial aid office as per the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
As someone who is currently enrolled in college I can tell you how frustrating the whole process can sometimes be. The majority of students in my college applied for need based financial aid. While most of the students I’ve talked to received some form of aid, there were a handful of students that received a considerable amount more. It’s not always fair that a student from family A receives more than a student from family B, while B is in greater need. This happens all of the time. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but to warn you that it does happen in some cases. It’s frustrating how this works. It’s crucial that you take the time to learn how both need based and merit based aid works. Hopefully this article will give you some insight into how to get college financial aid.
Getting admitted to your college is the first part (obviously). Once you have been admitted you will have greater control over the financial aid you receive. One of the most important things you need to do is fill out the required financial aid applications, as early as possible. If you do not fill out every required form by the deadline something could go wrong, and you could be in jeopardy of losing your aid. Also, most of the students I’ve spoken with who had received a large portion of aid filled out the forms early
After you fill out and send it the forms wait to receive your financial aid letter. If the amount is not what you expected than consider stopping by the financial aid department. They will be able to explain how to get college financial aid & how to fill out the fafsa forms.
Explain your financial situation to them, and if you have any form of evidence (check stubs, tax returns, child support) bring it with you. This won’t work it every case but if you do it with persistence I’m sure you can get somewhere. Of course every college is different. If you cannot pay for college once admitted make sure you tell them this.
Just in case you were not aware, you can also apply for private grants and scholarships. If you are either a minority or have a disability you are in a much better position to find a private grant/loan.
One other thing I want to say. Just because you are in a financial crisis right now, does not mean you won’t get aid.