Tag: Student Financial Aid
By Sarah Brooks:
The cost of higher education places burdens on family budgets, prompting creative searches for college cash. If you are getting ready to start college, or enrolling in another type of post-secondary program, you are in-store for a reality-check funding higher education.
The cost of college doesn’t end with tuition payments; they are only the beginning. Housing, books, transportation and other costs of living strain college funds, representing significant add-on expenses alongside tuition. So where is the money going to come from?
Higher education is financed individually, but you’ll find significant support from the public and private sectors. Government agencies, for example, contribute extensively to college relief, furnishing at least some funding for most students taking-on post-secondary education. As you craft your college financing strategy, resources offered by the U. S. Department of Education provide essential inputs for managing higher education expenses.
Government grants, for example, furnish funding that doesn’t require repayment. While programs are income-based, the Federal Government has deep pockets, extending college aid to families of various means. Beyond grants, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program issues funding for higher education. Part of many students’ financial aid packages, government-backed loans are eventually paid back, but they are offered with interest rates and repayment schedules that are much more reasonable than students would find in the private sector.
While mainstream financial aid eases the burden for countless students headed for college, it doesn’t always cover the whole tab for higher education. To bridge the affordability gap, students turn toward these unique sources of college aid; rounding out funding for higher education.
Applying for federal financial aid starts with a standardized form called the FAFSA. The document gathers information about your finances, enabling financial aid administrators to construct aid packages appropriate for your needs. In many cases, filing a FAFSA also initiates your quest for state aid. Financial aid officials at your college have the most up-to-date information about policies in your state, so they should be consulted when enrolling. State college funding is limited, so early application gives you the best chance of securing funds. Failing to fully explore state financial aid options leaves money on the table for college students needing it most.
Your Parents Employer
The key to securing financial aid for college is utilizing all the resources available to you. Where you live, your ethnic background, and the subjects you study each open doors to financial aid. But did you know your parent’s employer might have funding available for you?
Employers hold vested interests in training future workers, and they understand your parent’s position, paying for college. As a result, some employers offer incentives for family members, like scholarships and grants. You may strike-out, but it pays to ask mom and dad to put you in-touch with company resources.
Work- for-Tuition Arrangements
Some of the most generous financial aid available comes from programs specifically targeting certain vocations. Currently, the nursing and teaching professions are experiencing shortages of qualified graduates. To recruit promising candidates, various incentive programs furnish college tuition money, in exchange for service following graduation. Participating students who complete their obligations; usually two or three year stints working in shortage areas, essentially earn free higher education.
Aid for Foster Children
Special circumstances yield financial aid targeting certain members of society. If you are, or ever have been a foster child, exclusive funding resources may be available. In addition to widespread state aid for foster kids, private agencies and foundations also step-up with financial aid programs.
Scholarships are issued for excellence in academics and athletics, emerging from a wide variety of foundations and educational benefactors. Major corporations, especially those operating in forward fields requiring the best and brightest minds, issue their own financial aid packages to promising students. Apple, for example, supports education through scholarships in STEM subjects, assisting future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
The face of education continues to evolve, with more and more students returning to school to enhance credentials. TRPs are initiated by companies and other entities in support of employee education and certification.
Company sponsored tuition plans are each unique to the companies funding them, so it is important to review terms and conditions before counting on the aid they provide. Certain programs, for instance, only cover courses specifically related to your primary job with the company. In other instances, benchmarks must be met, like earning degrees or a certain number of credits, before tuition reimbursement kicks in. Whatever is offered, these programs furnish generous assistance for workers able to utilize them.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com
In a new study, Nicholas Hillman (Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Erica Lee Orians (Doctoral student, University of Utah) review the most recent and rigorous research on the role financial aid plays in improving college completion rates. With tuition rates consistently outpacing inflation and family incomes, along with the slow growth in educational attainment rates, the need for reforming state financial aid programs is becoming increasingly urgent to state policymakers. What can be done to reform state aid in ways that help increase college completion rates? This paper synthesizes the best evidence in the field, concluding reforms should:
- provide students with clear information about how to apply for aid;
- make the eligibility criteria simple and easy to understand;
- offer early commitments to students, far before they enter high school; and
- be well targeted to the state’s policy goals.
Cracking the Student Aid Code, from the College Board, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is based on research conducted with 1,000 parents and 1,250 students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds, and with 250 nontraditional students. The research explores their attitudes, expectations and experiences with the financial aid process, as well as their reactions to the recommendations to reform the federal student aid system.
|Download and read Cracking the Student Aid Code.|
Source: News Tribune
It’s crunch time for families counting on loans and grants to pay for college.
Deadlines to fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, are around the corner and likely generating anxiety in households across the country.
The FAFSA is used to determine how much an applicant or his or her family should contribute toward education costs. Schools then use that figure – known as the expected family contribution – to determine how much financial aid should be awarded to bridge the cost of attendance.
Students who apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov[http://www.fafsa.ed.gov] can get an estimate of their expected family contribution immediately. With a mail-in application, it may take two weeks or more.
Remember that it’s worth applying even if you don’t expect to qualify for need-based grants.
Before filing, here are five things you should know about the process:
1. Timing Matters
Deadlines for filing the FAFSA vary depending on the state and school. Some are as early as February or March, but filing promptly could pay off.That’s because many have first-come-first-serve policies for their limited pools of aid, said Jennifer Douglas of the U.S. Department of Education.
Deadlines for state aid can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm[http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm] .
2. Student Assets Count More
To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it’s important to understand how the FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution. The formula is complicated, but one of the more important rules to remember is that student assets and income are weighted far more heavily than those of a parent.
It’s too late now to strategize for a fatter aid package for the upcoming school year. But in the year ahead, consider using a student’s income and assets on education expenses before dipping into a parent’s funds. That will maximize the aid package offered for the following year.
3. Gifts Can Be Optimized
Financial gifts from friends and relatives are counted as student income in determining aid packages.
If you’re looking to maximize aid, ask friends and relatives to save financial contributions for the student’s senior year. Aid for each year is based on the student’s financial information from the previous year.
Another way to maximize outside help is to transfer the money to a parent’s checking account. This minimizes the impact of the gift on the aid package, because a parent’s assets aren’t weighted as heavily.
The same goes for 529 college savings plans; grandparents can transfer them to either a parent or student’s name.
4. There Are Financial Blind Spots
The FAFSA doesn’t factor in consumer debt so don’t expect any extra aid even if you’re swimming in credit card bills or auto loans. Paying down debt as soon as possible will only benefit you.
Another FAFSA blind spot? Retirement funds and pensions. They’re not counted as assets, so it makes sense to sock away money into them. In a sense, you could say the FAFSA rewards two tenets of smart personal finance – paying off debt and saving for retirement.
5. Whining Doesn’t Help
The expected family contribution can’t be negotiated with the Education Department.
That said, families can appeal to a school’s financial aid office for what’s called a professional judgment, or an adjustment of their aid eligibility. This is only an option if there are extenuating financial circumstance