Sending your children to college is an expensive proposition and it makes sense to boost financial aid. However there are five tips to boost financial aid and help the average person pay for their child’s scholarly endeavors.
1) Make sure you complete your taxes as soon as possible. Then fill out the required FAFSA financial report and submit it right away. FAFSA can be completed and submitted January 1 of every new year. Colleges have only so much money to give to their students. The first students to comply with the financial reports are more likely to get the most money at many colleges. Waiting until past March to get them finished and submitted will hurt the student’s potential to get the most in financial aid.
2) After filing your FAFSA and accepting a college’s offer to attend their school, you can report directly to financial aid any special circumstances that the financial aid reports do not cover. Examples include paying off large medical bills, a lay-off, supporting an aging parent, paying for special services for a disabled child or adult, a salary reduction, a personal injury, etc. Be prepared to provide proof of the situation or situations. Work with financial aid personnel, they are there to help a child in need attend their college, but not give out bargains. They have set standards they have to follow so do not try to haggle for a better financial package.
3) Try not to take out loans or have your child take out loans that have to be paid back. Try to find grants or scholarships that fit your circumstance or your child instead. This will take time to find but there are websites online that will help you. Just do a search on scholarships or financial aid on your favorite search engine. Also check out local scholarships through banks, individuals, or organizations in the area where you live. Your place of work may have scholarships for your child too.
4) Many top rated colleges may have high tuition costs, but they often have the best financial aid packages. Do not be afraid to look at high cost private colleges for this reason. Your child could get a high quality education with an attractive financial aid package. Many of these colleges have a financial calculator to calculate the amount of aid they will give your child.
Other options are starting at a community college for the first two years and then transferring to a four year college. Most community colleges are affordable for every student. State colleges will offer in-state students in-state tuition and better financial aid than they will to out-of-state students. Although some state colleges will offer in-state tuition to an out-of-state student who has the qualifications they are looking for in a potential student. (Author’ s note: My daughter went to a top rated university in a different state and was given in-state tuition with many grants and scholarships. But we had to ask for it from a dean.)
5) Make sure the student applies for all scholarships and grants the college has to offer in a timely fashion. (Author’ s note: My son missed the deadline to apply for a $5000/year merit scholarship from the college he went to that he would have gotten. It is a costly mistake he now has to pay for.)
Play it smart and do your research. Make sure you meet or beat deadlines for scholarships and grants. And for goodness sake get your FAFSA completed and submitted as soon as possible. Colleges want your student to afford to come to them and financial aid personnel want to help make that happen. Use them as your allies, but do not try to negotiate with them. They have set standards to follow.