The Basics of Applying for Student Grants
The first step in applying for grants is completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA calculates your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which determines what the government expects from you financially. The results of your FAFSA is on the Student Aid Report (SAR). This describes what government, state, and institutional grants you are eligible for.
Some state-sponsored and college-based grants require additional applications grant funding. Most have academic requirements. Pay attention to the directions of each award so you don’t submit an incomplete application. Funding levels of federal grants change annually, so do not miss the deadline. If you miss the deadline you will not get a grant. Apply early to avoid this issue.
How to qualify?
In deciding financial aid amounts, both student and parent income is considered. Students with most financial need are eligible for the most federal funding. Most colleges have extra funding available for low-income students.
While most grants are need-based, there are grants that focus on student-specific characteristics. Popular grants have three categories: federal, state and collegiate. Some private organizations and local groups also have funds to support higher education. Students who need to go to graduate school for their jobs have a lot of grant options.
Most states offer grants to students based on specific criteria, such as area of study, career path, or race ethnicity. Grants are very specific, so focus on grants that you most qualify for. As much as most people do not like reading the fine print, in this case, you must do so. Research every grant opportunity to maximize your chances of receiving a lot of money.
The best way to apply for financial aid is to fill out your FAFSA online. It’s quick, easy, and the online system checks your application for errors and omissions. General questions can be answered by the online help system, but if you have more specific questions, contact a customer service representative.
The online processing system is a secure system that requires a personal identification number (PIN) to protect your privacy. You will only use your PIN when applying for your FAFSA or checking your Student Aid Report (SAR). The information you provide online is also encrypted. This means that any information you submit on the web is unreadable to anyone other than you.
Your parents’ personal documents are also protected. Everything needed to apply for financial aid, is found online including the online FAFSA form, school codes, and submission deadlines. Once you’ve completed the FAFSA form, you can check the status, make corrections, and print your SAR off the website.
FAFSA financial aid forms submitted on the federal government’s system process quickly. When you complete your FAFSA online, you will find out what funding you’re eligible for, and what types of financial aid you should expect. It is important to know how much federal aid you will receive early so you can start looking for more ways to cover college costs.
If you are not comfortable filling out your FAFSA online, you may submit a hard copy by mail. Remember though that paper forms take longer to process than online forms, so plan your time accordingly. FAFSA is available starting on January 1st. The federal deadline for FAFSA on the Web is June 30th. State deadlines are earlier, so you must check and follow your state’s deadline to avoid missing it.