January is the most critical month of financial aid application for the college students or high school students enrolled in 12th grade. Even though many parents has the expert level of knowledge on the financial aids, they often make big mistakes . Therefore , please read below Five advices and seek for the maximum benefits by completing the submission of the financial aid application before the January passes us by.
First, create the list of college and universities on a paper that you have applied for the admission. If you visit each college's website , there is financial aid section under the admission menu. You can find the total amount of tuition here. Write the tuition right besides the college name. Also, please read the financial aid information carefully and jut down the college's Federal School Code on the paper too. Finally, find out if the college's financial aid office is looking only for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE too. If you have questions on any of the items , please contact the college's financial aid office and write down the answer on the paper because they are the experts on their financial aid programs. Additionally, if they have any scholarships available. You should find more about the qualifications if they do.
College financial aid must applied every year. Even if you were not qualified for any financial aid last year, rather you could be awarded with a lot of benefits depending on your situation this year. Therefore, it is unwise not to apply for the financial aid at all. Each year, the school's organizing rules and qualification on the condition is changed. For example, the number of college students in the family can increase, or your parent's financial condition could be deteriorating due to unemployment or business bankruptcy. Especially , there are many changes detected on the college financial aid programs last and this year, so you must apply for the financial aid this year.
"Money" is a finite resource to us. Since the Money is not a plentiful resource like water, the financial aid has to be the First-come-first-served basis. We had seen a case where two brothers applied for the financial aid but received different benefits even they attend the same college and the same financial situation. The younger brother applied for the financial aid early January, but the older brother submitted at the end of January. The younger brother received $500 more for the Federal Free Pell Grant. And the loan limits were also several thousand dollars higher for the younger brother. Therefore you must apply using last year's tax return if the current year's tax return is not ready. Once the current year's tax return is ready , you can update the financial aid application easily. So it is very important to act as soon as possible.
About 250 private colleges and universities use the College Board Profile Service to distribute the financial aid. If your college also request this profile information , you must complete this profile right after applying for the FAFSA. We have seen many high school seniors got stuck in a bad financial situation because they decided on the school based on the Award Letter sent with the notice of acceptance, but the CSS profile submitted later changed the original award proposition . Early CSS profile completion is one of the important steps to receive the correct financial aid information.
We are experiencing one of the worst economy recently. However, there are many different kinds of private scholarships and financial aid programs. One thing that you should be careful is that if you qualify and accept external scholarships, the college's financial aid amount could be affected. Therefore, you must compare their benefits details and periods before accepting such external awards.