Tuesday, January 18, 2011
e personal statements and autobiographies are written. Letters of recommendation and transcripts have been requested. Nothing left to do but wait for those nice, thick acceptance letters….
Not quite. There are another set of applications for your family to complete, financial assistance applications. Do not stop reading, because you think your family will never qualify for financial assistance. Remember, circumstances changes. A parent's job loss or illness, or even a natural disaster can change a family's eligibility. Families may update or modify a FAFSA
at any time, but a late application may not be accepted. The FAFSA is the primary, or gateway form for accessing student financial aid in the United States. Many counselors believe that every student planning to attend college in the coming year should complete this form.
Before you begin, look at some websites or books. Federal Citizen Information Center and the US Government Student Aid Portal both have essential information for families beginning to complete the FAFSA and other financial aide forms. Much of this information is available in both English and Spanish. Remember, too, that the FAFSA is free. Use these government sites to access the form to avoid paying an unnecessary fee.
Montgomery County Public Libraries has information about financial assistance and scholarships. Check the Teensite
for links to interesting and useful websites and articles. In our branches, you can browse the shelves in the 378.3
section for titles including, Paying for College without Going Broke.
Remember to check the reference section, too for directories and guides like the College Board Getting Financial Aid Handbook 2010.
The Montgomery County Public Schools website has a FAQ
about financial aid. Individual school guidance offices have resources also. Maryland’s Higher Education Commission
has important information about scholarships and grants available to Maryland residents.
Some final tips:
- Pay attention to deadlines. States, colleges and scholarship organizations have different due dates
- Keep your pin number and encourage your child to do so, also. You can use the same PIN every year.
- Some colleges or universities require additional or supplemental forms. Check the individual school’s website. One often required form is the CSS Profile.
Oh, the alphabet soup definitions include, FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, EFC, Expected Family Contribution, SAR, Student Aid Report, and PIN, the Personal Identification Number used to sign a FAFSA.
Maybe I should make some real soup to help my family get through this. Where did I put the barley?