- July 23, 2010|
- Posted in: Financial Aid|
- 1 Comments
Kristen Campbell, Kaplan’s Direction of College Prep Programs, answers questions about paying for college.
Question: Can you negotiate with the school to improve your financial aid offer? How would you go about doing that?
- When you are just looking at colleges, before you even apply, stop by the financial aid office. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the process and introduce yourself to the financial aid officer there so they understand your story, why you love the school so much, and anything from a financial need standpoint that they might need to know. Financial aid officers typically don’t hear from anyone until they’re upset, or they haven’t gotten the package they need. The reality is, they’re getting a lot of calls, and while the y genuinely want to help, there’s a limited amount of money. Notifying them of your situation early on, and enabling them to put a face with a name, may help your case if the package you get back isn’t what you expected.
- Inform your college that you need more financial help. So many students assume that their initial financial aid offer is it and there’s nothing else they can do after it has been sent out. While there are no guarantees, the worst thing to do would be to do nothing.
- Make sure the financial aid office knows if anything has changed. Now is not the time to be modest or embarrassed. You want to be as honest as possible if a parent has lost their job or if a drastic health issue resulted in big hospital bills. The financial aid office cannot help if they don’t know about these situations. They will try everything they can to accommodate families that are in difficult situations.
- If you have highly attractive financial aid offers from other schools, do some negotiating. The goal of financial aid is to help students pay for school, but it’s also a recruiting tool. For colleges, being able to offer really attractive scholarship and financial aid packages is a key way for them to differentiate themselves from other institutions. Go back to the school and reiterate that you want to go to their school but you are struggling. Ask them for additional help. If they want you and the money is available, they will do everything they can to make that happen. The key here is to be respectful, but it’s ok to be persistent. They’re not going to take away your offer for asking as long as you do it in a way that’s professional and respectful.
Best Approach to Negotiate for More Financial Aid
- Convey your message in person, but bring written backup. Paying for college can be an emotional process and it’s always best to present your case in person. However, for the paperwork and consideration to be done, they will need written proof that you are in need of more financial aid.
- Present your situation in a clear, articulate way. Being disorganized or not being able to communicate why you are in need of additional assistance will only delay the process, or they may not be able to help you at all.
- Be polite. Getting frustrated and angry will only worsen the situation. Financial aid officers take a lot of heat with other students and their parents. Give them a refreshing experience by maintaining a cool, calm discussion and they should be more willing to work with you.
- Remember that you’re going to school for more than a year. Chances are you may have to do this again for the next few years, so be sure to leave a positive impression on the financial aid office.
Other ways to save:
Think about the other costs associated with going to college you can try to reduce:
- Housing accommodations – is off campus housing more affordable for you?
- Books & materials – can you rent or borrow textbooks?
- Travel – is it less expensive for you to go to a college in your city?
- AP courses – if you score well in APs, can you shrink your attendance from 4 years to 3?
- Work on campus – if you work study was not part of your financial aid package, can you work elsewhere on campus to earn money?
- Community colleges – can you keep your costs low by taking core classes your first year and then transferring out?
How have you managed to fund your education?
- July 14, 2010|
- Posted in: Financial Aid|
- 12 Comments
Anyone looking for financial aid has probably heard of the FAFSA. It’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it’s your first and most important step to getting the money you need to help you pay for college.
The best way to fill out the FAFSA is early and online. Making mistakes on your FAFSA, however, can delay the processing of your application, and possibly make you lose out on available financial aid.
Here’s a list of the 10 most common FAFSA mistakes that you’ll want to avoid:
- Listing the incorrect Social Security Number or driver’s license number. Double-check to make sure you have entered the digits and letters in the correct order.
- Using decimal points or commons in numeric fields. Don’t use them, and instead always round to the nearest dollar amount.
- Forgetting to sign and date. If you’re filling the FAFSA electronically, make sure to obtain your PIN from www.pin.ed.gov. Your PIN acts as your electronic signature and will be assigned to you only. If you’re filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign it.
- Forgetting to list your college. You need the Federal School Code for the college you plan on attending and list it, along with any other schools you’ve applied to.
- Leaving blank fields. Enter a ‘0′ or ‘not applicable’ instead of leaving a blank field, since too many blanks may cause miscalculations and/or an application rejection.
- Listing Adjusted Gross Income as equal to total income. These are not the same figures, and in most cases the AGI is larger than the total income.
- Entering the wrong federal income tax paid amount. You need to obtain your federal income tax paid amount from your income tax return forms - NOT your W-2 form(s).
- Listing marital status incorrectly. They want to know what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, so only say yes if you are currently married.
- Listing parent marital status incorrectly. They want to know your custodial parents' marital status, and if they remarried, you’ll need the stepparent’s information too.
- Leaving the question about drug-related offenses blank. If you are unsure of something, find out before submitting the FAFSA rather than leaving it blank. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting aid.
Don't miss out on financial aid from the federal government simply because you filled out the FAFSA incorrectly, or made one of the above mistakes. Double-check your application and more importantly - don't miss the deadline!
Can you think of anything we may have missed? What has been your expereience with the FAFSA?
- July 07, 2010|
- Posted in: Financial Aid|
- 2 Comments
This July there are reasons other than 4th of July fireworks to get excited. While student loans are not something we typically associate with summer fun, new laws taking effect this month give us a couple good reasons to feel better about financial aid. Here’s why:
1. A Switch to Direct Lending
Starting July 1, federally subsidized student loans are moving from private banks back to the government. Students who are looking for a loan to help pay for tuition will only need to fill out a FAFSA and tell their college that they want a loan. The college will then send all applications directly to the government, and the government will handle them from there.
2. Bigger Pell Grants
By taking private banks out of the picture, and eliminating the fees paid to them to act as intermediaries, billions of dollars in government savings will go towards increasing Pell Grants. The maximum grant will increase by $200, to $5,500, for the 2010-2011 academic year. A change in eligibility rules will also allow over a half-million more families to qualify for aid.
3. Shorter FAFSA
Applying for financial aid online just got easier. The web version of the FAFSA has been cut down. Instead of 6 pages of redundant questions, the new version allows students to only answer questions that are relevant to their situation.
4. Lower Interest Rates
Also starting July 1, students who qualify for the subsidized federal Stafford loan will not have to pay interest while they are in school, and will pay only 4.5 percent (as opposed to 5.6 percent) after they leave.
5. Consumer Protection
All student loans, existing and new, will now be regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB will:
- Regulate advertising by private lenders and disclosure requirements for student loans.
- Serve as a source for borrowers who are looking to file a complaint. The CFPB has the authority to pursue problem lenders and to propose additional regulations for any new and widespread problems that may arise.
6. Student Loan Regulation
A private student loan ombudsman is going to take care of disputes between borrowers and lenders. While there has been an ombudsman for federal student loans in the Department of Education, there has never before been an ombudsman for private student loans. Each year the ombudsman will issue a report to Congress, the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of the Treasury to address problems and request new laws.
And it’s going to get better:
Students who borrow money starting in July 2014 will be allowed to cap repayments at 10 percent of income above a basic living allowance instead of 15 percent. And, if they keep up payments, their balances will be forgiven after 20 years instead of 25. For teachers, nurses, military servicemembers, and other individuals working in public service, balances will be forgiven in 10 years.
While July’s fireworks and barbeques are much more fun than talking about student loans, these changes to the financial aid program are certainly worth paying attention to. What do you think?
- June 29, 2010|
- Posted in: Online Degrees|
- 8 Comments
by Sarah Wittcop, special to CourseAdvisor.com
I am a recent graduate from Liberty University Online, where I earned my Master of Business Administration degree. I have to admit that before I began studying with LU Online, I felt uncertain about what to believe when it came to taking online courses. To save you time and maybe a headache, allow me to dispel four myths about online education.