BY TOM JAGER
Getting financial assistance for students is a confusing topic. You’ll have to do a lot, including strict deadlines and numerous requirements, in order to get the money you need for a college education. To make sure you did everything right, you have to do a thorough research and apply only for those grants and scholarships you are eligible for.
In this article, we’re going to help you make your research as effective as possible by providing the most important information about federal and state financial aid 2018.
What is Federal and State Financial Aid?
Financial aid for low-income students like grants and scholarships comes from the federal government and state government. Federal aid, for example, is the money awarded to a low-income student to help them pay for higher education expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, transportation, and room and board. According to the U.S> Department of Education, there are a variety of federal grants available for students, including:
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants for students who have exceptional financial need (up to $4,000 a year)
- Federal Pell Grants for low-income students (up to $5,920 for 2017-2018 award year)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants for low-income students who are taking a class to become elementary or secondary school teachers (up to $3,736 a year).
In case you’re not eligible for federal aid (find the requirements below), you might receive money for education from your state. “Every state has at least one grant or scholarship available to its residents,” says John Caplan, an educator from write-my-essay-for-me.com. “Typically, the eligibility for this kind of financial aid is limited to students residing in this state or attending an in-state college.”
Who Gets Federal and State Aid?
Every student who meets pre-determined eligibility requirements can receive some kind of financial help from the federal government, regardless of age or income. The most common requirements are the following:
- S. citizenship (in some cases, eligible international student)
- A valid Social Security Number
- Prove the need for financial assistance (depends on your Expected Family Contribution and the cost of college attendance. Find out more here)
- Evidence of appropriate academic performance in school
- Registration with Selective Service (applies to males only)
- Evidence of qualification for obtaining a college education
- The certification agreement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (find the online copy of FAFSA here). Fill it in every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible.
Given a wide variety of state financial aid programs, you need to go to the website of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and select your state to review available programs.
For example, by clicking on Texas on the map, one lands on a special site with the list of all federal and state aid programs available for Texas residents and other students.
Important Things to Remember
One of the critical things you need be aware of is deadlines. They can vary depending on state and program, but make sure you remember that the deadline for the federal financial aid application is June 30, 2019. The aforementioned FAFSA becomes available for students to fill in on October 1 and determines eligibility.
As for state programs, each state has a specific deadline. For example, the midnight of March 10 is the deadline for applications in Indiana while students in Iowa have to apply before July 1, 2018. To find out information about your own state, refer to the complete list of student financial aid deadlines by state from FastWeb.
How to Apply
Application is a bit complex process, so make sure you understand everything. The first step to getting federal aid is to complete the aforementioned FAFSA form at the Department of Education site. For example, if you want to attend college from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019, the form will become available for you on October 1, 2017. Be ready to provide the evidence of the real need for financial assistance, including some information about your income and taxes.
The second step to getting federal aid for education is to obtain a unique FSA ID (required for both students and parents). It is a mandatory requirement that allows you to submit the FAFSA form online and confirm your identity. Remember, this ID has the same legal powers as a written signature, so don’t share it with anyone.
The third step is getting the Student Aid Report (SAR). It could be presented to you in paper or online (depends on whether you provide an email address in your FAFSA form). SAR provides you with some basic information about your eligibility and contains the answers to the most common questions related to obtaining financial help.
SAR also includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a number used to determine your eligibility.
The final step is to contact the school you might attend to get all information on eligibility, available financial aid programs, and other information.