Since it’s the middle of the semester, it’s time to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form for college. Before we go any further, though, let’s take a breath. Ready? OK, we can do this!
The first thing to know when filing for financial aid is do not procrastinate and miss the deadline. Following this step will save us a lot of money. Trust me. When starting this process, we need to have our social security number (which can be found on a W-2 form) and income amount at the ready. We will also need to know how much our parents make. Then, to fill out the FAFSA form, we can visit fafsa.ed.gov. This site also has a help page to answer questions we may have and a phone number to call, if needed (1-800-433-3243). One of the best parts about this is that applying online is free. High school guidance counselors and college financial aid offices can help with this process too.
Beyond FAFSA, students can also apply for scholarships and grants from the U.S. government such as the Pell Grant, private and nonprofit organizations, and college or school specific endowments. Grants and scholarships do not normally have to be paid back, unless the student drops out of school. Loans, however, must be repaid with interest. Ideally, loans would be a last resort–but there may be times when they are unavoidable (depending on one’s financial situation etc.). Federal loans tend to have the lowest interest rates, but they have to be repaid in monthly payments after graduation or the end of one’s school attendance. Two ways to help repay a portion of federal loans are Teach for America and teaching at Title One schools.
Another piece of information to look into along with financial aid is Federal Work Study. This is a way to help pay for schooling and college departments will usually work with the students’ changing class schedules. Help finding jobs on campus can usually be found through the school’s financial aid office and career services. Work Study can also be a great jumping off point for students with little work experience.
However this process goes for you, remember there is a way when there seems to be no way. If things do not work out the first time around, try again or find something different. Keep trusting the Lord and put everything in His hands.
Psalm 37:5 New English Translation (NET Bible)
“Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
About the Writer:
Joy Edwards is a college student from Arizona. Her major is undecided, but she enjoys sports, photography, learning about different cultures, and spending time with friends and family. She is also Christian and volunteers with her church.