FIND FINANCIAL AID FOR COLLEGE, EVEN DURING A PANDEMIC
It is a tragic fact that each year around 661,000 high school seniors miss out on over $2.5 BILLION dollars of free, no strings attached government grant money because they do not fill out a 30 minute form: the FAFSA.1 Now, given the uneven economic times that we’re in, especially with the Delta variant continuing to make many families even more concerned about how to pay for college, it’s more important than ever to get the financial aid that you are entitled to for college.
First, it’s important to realize that it’s not the number in your financial aid package that really matters. The most crucial component of financial aid is whether it is quality financial aid. Of course, given the option of loans that need to be paid back versus grant money that does not, you’d prefer the latter. Much of this quality financial aid is provided after filling out the FAFSA if you qualify for need based aid. Since college is so expensive, most people are way more likely to qualify than they initially expect. Therefore, the first step of getting financial aid is most certainly filling out the FAFSA, along with the other potentially necessary school specific financial aid forms. For example, around 250 colleges use the CSS PROFILE form in addition to the FAFSA for money the school itself is responsible for giving out, on top of some schools having an additional form as well.2
Strategizing how to get the most financial aid only matters if you submit these forms and do your research for which forms each school you are applying to needs. The FAFSA is the only form some states look at when giving out state specific aid as well!
Only about 5% of total scholarships are given out by 3rd parties, not from the government or the colleges themselves.3 This money is also forced to be reported to the colleges which they then use to lower your Effective Family Contribution, meaning that you’ll likely have to effectively pay the same amount even with any 3rd party scholarship you receive. This means that looking for outside scholarships in many cases is not a great investment of your time.
It is important to realize that nearly all schools are struggling more with their financial health than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic (especially for the schools not at the top of the rankings that people are fighting to get in). Depending on which survey you read, about 70-80% of high school students get into their top choice school! While this might be shocking on the surface, it connects the point that schools, especially lower/mid tier private schools, are fighting over students to be able to fill their enrollment to have students keep paying money to keep the business model of higher education working. You have the leverage to make a deal with schools to get more financial aid. Use this leverage to try and get more quality aid such as grants and scholarships, followed by federal work study and then loans.
There is SO much more on this topic covered in the “Maximizing College Affordability” Course on the remoteUprep Course Offerings page.
Financial aid counseling and college admissions consulting is often out of reach for most families because of the high price range and tendency to require commitments. At remoteUprep.com, we believe it should be accessible to those that could benefit the most.
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