CAP students spent a ton of time filling out the FAFSA and CSS Profile, searching for scholarships, and doing their college financial planning, but what do you do when all the forms are filed? Here’s a quick guide to your financial aid next steps!
1. The SAR Report: This report, which you have likely already received from the US Department of Education, indicates your EFC–your Expected Family Contribution. This is the amount that the government believes your family should pay for your college education this year. This number can change year-to-year depending upon your income and/or your parent(s)’s income. Your SAR also includes a list of the information you gave on your FAFSA. If any of this information is incorrect, you need to correct it on your FAFSA immediately. Just log in at fafsa.ed.gov.
2. The Award Letter from your colleges: This letter determines what financial aid you’ve received in the form of Federal and State grants (like a Pell Grant or a Cal Grant), how much Work Study you qualify for, what scholarships you qualify for through the college itself, how much you qualify for in federal Stafford loans, and additional funds for which you may qualify. EVERY AWARD LETTER LOOKS DIFFERENT, so this can be a bit confusing.
NOTE: You do not have to accept all of the loans and/or work study you are offered. You may have received scholarships from other sources that make up for some of the cost to you and your family, so you will need to recalculate your awards based on these external factors.
3. Getting More Aid: Look, this is not likely to happen for everyone; however, some students can illustrate that they have financial need that extends beyond the funding they’ve been given, and that, if they do not receive more aid, they will not be able to attend college. Most colleges have an appeals process through the financial aid office, so call your school’s financial aid department immediately if you want to learn more. Generally, the colleges will want to see a lot of paperwork to back up your claim–you’ll need proof of unemployment or a new rental agreement or proof of whatever other expense your family claims has changed since completing the FAFSA.
4. Once you’ve chosen a school, search that school’s website for scholarships. Most colleges have scholarships available only to their students, but get on this FAST–these awards can be very competitive.
5. Be mindful of the cut-off date to accept your financial aid awards–it will be noted on the award letter, and you must inform your school’s financial aid office of your plans prior to this date.
5. Continue your Search: look for local and regional scholarships and educate yourself on the types of financial aid you are considering. Want to know more about your Stafford Loans? Visit www.StaffordLoan.com
Pell Grant: This is funding from the Federal Government that you do not have to pay back and can total in any amount up to $5,550
Cal Grant: This is a grant from the State of California, and it comes in various amounts depending upon your GPA, financial need, and the college you plan to attend (must be located in California). Learn more about the Cal Grant A, B, and C here.
Work Study: This program makes it easier for you to get a great job on or off campus while you are in school, and the money you make can help you to pay your college costs. When you choose your college, the best course of action is to contact the financial aid or work study office immediately to learn more about job opportunities.
Stafford Loans: These are funds that you have to pay back, but the interest rates are low, and certain career tracks may even qualify you for loan forgiveness programs down the road. You always want to take your subsidized loan amount before dipping into unsubsidized loans. The best course of action regarding loans is research. You can make an appointment with your school’s financial aid counselor if you are confused or concerned about loans.
Private loans: There are additional opportunities to receive loans for college through private banks and financial institutions. If your family is interested in pursuing loan options in addition to Stafford Loans, you may want to speak with Mo or Lina at CAP, your college counselor, or your college’s financial aid office to develop your college funding plan.
Most of all, CAP is available to help you navigate this confusing process. JMHS students can join us Tuesday, April 17th, from 3-5pm for a Financial Aid Next Steps workshop in A124. See you there!