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Applying for Financial Aid

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Apply for Financial Aid Painlessly

Applying for financial aid does not need to be the daunting task that everyone assumes it is. In fact if you consider the return you could potentially get for a small investment of your time (and your parent's time if you're a dependant student) it's well worth it. So where do you start?

Your first step when applying for financial aid should always be to check with the schools you're considering to see what their specific requirements are. You can start by visiting their websites to see if they list financial aid information there. Look for a list of steps you should take to complete their particular financial aid application process. If a school's website doesn't have this information readily available, then you should contact their financial aid office or administrator directly.

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You will find that you'll have at least one financial aid application to submit, and possibly many. All of the schools that administer federal aid like Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans will indicate that you should submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to the federal government. This is the form that you are required to submit if you want to apply for any type of federal aid and you can find it at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Once your FASFA financial aid application is processed, you and the schools you've indicated will receive your personalized Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. The schools will use this number to see if you are eligibile for financial aid.

Some schools, particularly private schools, may also require you to submit the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. The CSS PROFILE is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid other than federal aid. This might mean aid in the form of school grants or scholarships. It's important to note that unlike the FASFA, which is free, the College Board charges fees for the CSS PROFILE. According to collegeboard.com (2007), they charge a registration fee of $5 and a fee of $18 per school or scholarship program that your information is sent to.

Additionally some schools, usually state schools, will recommend that you submit a state financial aid application. Since every state has different requirements and offerings, you should check with the schools you're applying to or speak to a representative from your state.

Last, but certainly not least, you may be required to submit financial aid applications and other forms directly to schools. These forms will vary depending on the schools you're applying to. For instance some schools may ask for documents to verify sibling enrollment at that or another school before they calculate your aid award package. Others require income verification forms, family budgets, and more.

Although applying for financial aid may take a little time and effort, it's a worthwhile investment to know the facts about financial aid. You may end saving thousands of dollars on your education costs. But if the financial aid package you receive falls short, don't despair. There are many student loan options available to help you make your college dream a reality.

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