Applying for Financial Aid - Do it NOW!!!
www.fafsa.ed.gov to begin the application process.
If you are not familiar with the financial aid process, then it's a good idea to read the rest of this blog to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps you'll soon be taking.
The FAFSA is a free application that every student MUST complete to be eligible for any form of federal, state, or institutional aid. The FAFSA is key for recieving any form of financial aid (grants, loans, work-study, etc) because how can you receive any kind of help without asking for it?
The U.S. Department of Education doesn't tell you how much aid you will receive. Instead, it tells you how much the federal government expects your family to contribute toward paying for your college expenses (EFC).
When you submit the FAFSA, actual colleges will send you an award letter that provides details on the type and amount of grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans that you'll receive if you decide to attend there. This will help clarify your true out-of-pocket expenses.
Based on your answers to the FAFSA, the end result is a number called your expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined using a formula called the Federal Methodology. This is the amount of money that the government expects you or your family to pay toward your education.
When you apply to a college, the financial aid department subracts your EFC from the college's published cost of attendance (COA) to determine your financial need.
If you are completing a FAFSA, it is encouraged that you complete your income taxes early. If this isn't possible, you can use estimates on the FAFSA and then adjust the income numbers after you've established your place in the line for aid.
What to Do:
- It is important to know what the financial aid deadlines are for the colleges you have applied to - check their websites or call each admissions office to find the dates! Pennsylvania's deadline for state aid is May 1st for traditional, 4-year programs. If you are attending a community college, business/trade/technical school, hospital school of nursing, or in an non-transferable degree program - August 1st is the state deadline. Just because PA's deadline is May 1st doesn't mean that you should wait until May 1st! The colleges you have applied to might have a due date much sooner: for instance, Washington and Jefferson's deadline is February 15th, University of Pittsburgh's is April 1st, Penn State's deadline is March 1st.
- For a worksheet with a list of additional college deadlines, visit ncacleiderman.wikispaces.com and click on the "Handouts" link in the right-hand toolbar.
- Register for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) so you can electronically sign your FAFSA. This PIN will be used every year that you file a FAFSA, so make sure you write it down and keep it somewhere safe! www.pin.ed.gov is the website where you'll register for your PIN.
- Attend Everett's Financial Aid Night and local FAFSA Completion Sessions at the Bedford County Technical Center.
Wrapping Up Senior Year
Spring has sprung and it's almost time for graduation - but that doesn't mean you should forget about what happens AFTER you receive your diploma! Celebrate your accomplishments but make sure you have a solid plan in place for your future. Will you be attending college or a technical school? Are you going to be heading off to enlist in one of the military branches? Or do you have a job lined up to begin working and earning an income?
It isn't too late to make any of these things happen if you are still without a plan. The option of furthering your education isn't solely for students who graduate in the top 10% of their classes. Community colleges, while not only being very affordable, allow all students to begin working on either an associate's or bachelor's degree in growing fields such as allied health and the sciences. Transfer your credits after a year of classes and start on your path to earning a degree. Also keep in mind that all of the state funded universities (California University of PA, Bloomsburg, Edinboro, Millersville, Shippensburg, West Chester, etc) are still accepting applications through May - you can still apply and be accepted to start school in the fall!
It's incredibly important to have a plan and direction for your future - visit Mrs. Mountan in the Guidance Office if you need any kind of help to begin this process.
Senior Year Timeline
College application season always has a way on sneaking up on unsuspecting seniors year after year. The exciting events that take place at the beginning of the school year, from Homecoming to Spirit Week to Halloween, avert our attention from the application deadlines that draw closer and closer as time ticks away. Now that we have started the month of November and the first quarter of the year is over, it's time to get serious about applying to colleges.
1.If you are unsure of how to begin to search for colleges to apply to, or unsure of whether or not you even want to go to college, make an appointment with Mrs. Mountan as soon as you can! We can explore your options, talk about career choices, and make a plan-of-action so you will have something set in place to do after you graduate in June.
2. Do some research outside of school. Use resources like College Board to search for schools that match the qualities you're looking for (Big or small campus? Urban or suburban environment? Close to home or far away?) and build a list of at least 5 schools that you think you'd be happy attending.
3. Visit campuses! College campuses literally open all of their doors during the fall to invite prospective freshman for tours and information sessions. You must, must, must visit the colleges you are applying to - how else will you know if you really want to go there? Make a trip out of it and invite some of your friends to come along if that will make the event more enjoyable. When you get home, write down your initial impression of each school you visit - that way you won't find yourself confusing colleges with each other.
4. When you are ready to apply, make sure ALL of the pieces of your application are complete:
- Did you submit your application online or send it in the mail?
- Did you request to have your transcript sent to the colleges that you've applied to?
- Did you send your SAT scores using collegeboard.com?
- Did you submit ALL additional materials, such as letters of recommendation, essays, portfolios, or financial aid documents?
- Did you pay the fee to process your application?? If paying an application fee is hardship, please speak to Mrs. Mountan in the Guidance Office.
5. Attend school events. College Application Workshops and Financial Aid Night are two examples of events that are worth attending if you're considering going to college. Do not wait until the last minute to figure everything out - applications have deadlines and the longer you wait to apply for financial aid, the less you are likely to actually end up receiving. Get all of the information you can NOW so you can make the most informed decisions before you graduate.
Are you looking for scholarships as a way to help pay for your college education and expenses? Make sure to be listening to annoucements for the local scholarships found in the Scholarship Center in the Guidance Office. Also, sign up for the Remind Me texts from Mrs. Mountan that she will send to alert students and parents of new scholarships that become available.
Fact: Scholarships are a great source of financial aid - this is one way to earn FREE money for college that you do not have to pay back after graduation! Even if you have to write an essay to apply, just think - if it takes you 2 hours to write a paper, and the result is a $1,000 scholarship, you just earned $500 per hour! It's definitely worth the effort.