If you are a loved one is going to college this fall, apply for financial aid as early as possible. The amount of aid you get is based on your need level, fund availability, and the date your application process is completed. It pays to be on top of it. File your financial aid application as soon as you file your taxes. You should have all the paperwork you need in February.
I worked in the Financial Aid office when I was in college and I cannot agree more with this tip. The free money goes quick! You should also see what scholarships are out there. Many scholarships go unclaimed because no one with the correct criteria applies for them. There are ones for nationality, parent's employment or college (or lack of college), area of interest and on and on.
Whatever you do, take out as little money as possible in loans. This is money you are taking from your future. I made some poor choices with my loans and avoided paying them for as long as possible. I now owe more to student loans than I did when I left school 10 years ago!
I could use some advice on this also. We have done the Fafsa and will be going to the college to see what they offer. I only make $10,000 a year. I would like to think there is enough aid and grants out there for my son. He has been in IEP since 3rd grade yet has excelled enough with dyslexia to get into a major university within our state. Any help you can email me at karen_zetzer AT yahoo.com.
You can fill out the FAFSA with guesses and indicate you will file later when the question is asked if you filed already or will file later - this gives you the opportunity to do a FAFSA today, even before you have done your taxes.
When my kids were in college, we'd do that taxes as soon as possible after the first of the year and put in the FAFSA forms. The sooner you do all that the better because most schools work on first come first served financial aid. The grants and good loans go quickly.
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