After you’ve received your award letter, chances are you might have some additional questions about paperwork and terminology. Here you will find some answers to some quick and common questions.
Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you decipher and navigate the loan process as a smart consumer.
How do I borrow responsibly?
What are “good loans” and “bad loans?”
Loan Terminology – What do all these words mean??
How do I get access to the best loans?
How much can I borrow in student loans?
What is loan forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge?
BREAKING NEWS (7/13/21): The U.S. Department of Education announced that it will make temporary changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) verification process to provide relief to students for the 2021-22 award year. Students previously selected for verification who have not yet completed the process will no longer need to, assuming no conflicting information is present, and should contact their financial aid office immediately.
About a third of FAFSA applications are selected each year for verification, this number goes up to half for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need or whose parents did not file taxes. During FAFSA verification, you may need to verify information you provided about your family’s finances and demographics. There is no way to completely avoid getting flagged, since some schools have 100% of their students flagged for verification and others are simply chosen at random.
So even if you feel like this…don’t worry.
You’ve got this.
This video is a quick tutorial about FAFSA verification made by Val from our New York staff but we are sharing it with the public! (Please excuse any program lingo such as “OneGoal Fellows” or “PD” as it was made for one of our classes but much of the FAFSA info is still relevant.)
It is important to remember that a Financial Aid Award letter from a college or university is an offer, and that it is perfectly fine to ask the college or university to reconsider your application and to seek out more funds for your financial aid package.
Watch this video to understand why you would want to appeal your award letter and how to do it.
Reasons to Appeal Aid:
How to Appeal Aid
You should feel empowered in these situations to negotiate with financial aid officers to attempt to receive a better financial aid package. The most important thing to remember in the negotiating process is that the worst that can happen is the financial aid officer could say no and leave you with the first offer. You can’t lose money you’ve already been offered when trying to negotiate, but in some cases you will be able to get more financial aid than was originally offered.
An added benefit to making the time to call financial aid offices is that you will likely learn a lot about the college’s level of ‘customer service’ and the level to which they are willing to help you enroll at their campus for next fall.
|Here’s an example of a script for a negotiation call with the financial aid office:
Student: Hello, may I speak to Financial Aid Officer [financial aid officer’s last name]?
Financial Aid Officer: This is Financial Aid Officer [financial aid officer’s last name].
Student: I’m glad I was able to reach you. My name is [Fellow name] and I currently attend [high school name] in [city]. [COLLEGE NAME] has been my top choice school since I began searching for colleges last year. I recently received my financial aid award letter, and I am worried that I will not be able to cover the costs associated with your school. Can you help me identify additional options for assistance?
Financial Aid Officer: I definitely can. Let me find your award letter so we can discuss it.
Student: Okay, great, thank you.
Financial Aid Officer: Alright, I found your award letter. It looks like you have several grants, both subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans, and work-study.
Student: Yes, and I have a remaining out-of-pocket cost of $6,760. Based on the guidelines I have read, my out-of-pocket costs should be $4,000 or less. My family is also experiencing challenges with finances since we are paying for medical bills for my brother using my parents’ savings, which they might have been able to use to help pay for college.
Financial Aid Officer: I’m so sorry to hear that. I think that this could be an instance of extenuating circumstances that our office can review to determine how to best adjust your financial aid. Can you send copies of documentation of the medical bills and payments your parents are making to our office for us to review?
Student: Yes, I will talk to my parents and share copies with you as soon as possible. Thank you very much.
In addition to grants and loans, scholarships spell “free money” and are an important way to create an affordable plan for completing your degree or credential.
Scholarships with Upcoming Deadlines
Additional scholarship search resources:
The Best Scholarship Websites for Finding Money: https://youtu.be/qwrCbPtLicI
The following describes in general terms the steps of application completion and the process used to determine MAP eligibility:
*NOTE: Not all required course books are textbooks. Some may be literature, articles, course packs, etc. Be mindful of that for budgeting purposes. Many non-textbooks are available at local libraries and are not as expensive as textbooks. Additionally, always ask your professors for the book list early so that you can take full advantage of sales or used books that take longer to ship.
If in doubt, you can ask the professor if an older edition is okay since you are trying to save some money. Your professor might have additional money-saving ideas for you, too!