The most difficult part of graduation for parents can be trying to understand the financial aid process and what needs to happen. This year we are bringing in help! Heather Eslinger, eHeata representative from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, (a non-profit organization) will be doing two presentations at our high school this year. On Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 6:30-7:30 pm she will provide an overview of the financial aid process in a presentation designed for the parents of juniors and seniors (although sophomore parents can attend as well). On Tues., January 22nd, from 6:30-8 pm she will come back to present to seniors and their parents about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which we recommend all college-bound students apply for. These presentations are free, and Ms. Eslinger is not selling anything- just providing information for our students. Please let us know if you plan to attend either or both sessions by emailing Wendi Curtis at email@example.com so we can make sure we have enough handouts
There are five main kinds of financial aid that students can apply for: Scholarships, Loans, Grants, Work Study and Military Assistantship.
Scholarships are free money provided by various groups, organizations, businesses or colleges. While many students think scholarship money only goes to the top academic students, many scholarships are actually based on major, community service, work experience, financial need, participation in extra-curricular activities, athletics or a combination of these and other factors. Students should start applying for scholarships early in their senior year, as many scholarships are processed during the first semester. Go to the senior update link for a list of upcoming scholarship deadlines.
Grants are free money provided by the federal government for students whose families have lower incomes; they do not have to be paid back upon graduation. To be eligible to receive grants, students need to file a FAFSA form after Jan. 1st of their senior year, which all seniors who are attending college are encourage to do.
Military Assistantship is provided to students who commit to serving in one of our country’s military branches, with the amount of financial support being determined by the length of the commitment being made. For more information about the armed forces, please go to our military link.
Loans are available to many students, and can be provided by local banks or the federal government. Typically student loans for college have a lower interest rate than other loans, and payment are not due until six months after a student graduates from college or stops taking classes. Students loans can be unsubsidized, which means the interest that accrues while the student is in college is added to the final amount, or subsidized, which means the student is not charged any interest on their loans until after graduation.
Work-Study is another type of financial aid that may be offered to a student who has filled out the FAFSA. Basically, getting work-study means the student is given a job at the university or school he or she is attending. These part-time jobs are usually very flexible, working around a student’s class schedule.
The Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in securing financial help for college. Even if you don’t think you’ll receive any federal financial aid, fill out the FAFSA anyway. Most college financial aid counselors will not discuss financial matters with you until you have filed the FAFSA. Non-federal aid is often awarded based on the information submitted on the FAFSA.
Seniors can apply for federal student aid beginning January 1. You should complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible, because monies are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some of the information needed to complete the FAFSA include: current income taxes and deductions; household assets; bank statements; investment records; social security number; driver’s license; a list of interested colleges, etc.
Seniors are strongly encouraged to use the online method for filing the application. You can find the online FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. In order to sign your online FAFSA form, students and parents will need a PIN (Personal Identification Number), which you can get at www.pin.ed.gov. Because there is a short waiting period, you are encouraged to get your PIN before January 1. If you already have a PIN issued by the federal government, you do not have to request a new one. If you prefer a paper version, the mail-in paper FAFSA may be downloaded at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Seniors can access the PDF file, complete the form on the computer or by hand, and mail it to the address provided for processing.
The FAFSA on the Web Worksheet will be available from the guidance office, hopefully before Christmas break. This worksheet will help you fill in the FAFSA on the Web. It is important to understand that this worksheet is a tool and is not an official FAFSA; therefore, it cannot be submitted by mail for processing.
The senior folder is full of valuable resources to help you through the financial aid application process. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the guidance office
College Goal Sunday is a free, nationwide event that assists thousands of high school seniors and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the essential first step to receiving financial aid for college. Wisconsin offers this program the third weekend of February each year. Minnesota offers this event at various dates and times from January through May. Check out dates and locations at http://www.collegegoalwi.org or http://minnesotacollegegoal.org.
Things parents and seniors will need to bring to College Goal Sunday:
- Correct Social Security numbers
- Driver's license (if applicable)
- Current federal tax returns
- Current untaxed income records (Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare or veterans benefits records)
- Current bank statements
- Current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, and stock, bond, and other investment records
- Alien registration card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
Financial Aid Estimator: For each student who applies for financial aid, the government determines what is known as an EFC number, or Expected Family Contribution. Roughly stated, this would be the amount of money a student would need above and beyond the financial aid help (grants, loans, work study) they would receive. A website that can help estimate that financial need is http://www.finaid.org/calculators/.
Midwest Student Exchange Program is an easy way to save money on out-of-state tuition costs. For more information, visit http://msep.mhec.org