DO NOT limit where you apply based on the College “Sticker Price”, especially if you have strong grades, test scores and extra-curricular activities. Although none of the Ivys offer merit scholarships some of the other private schools offer merit aid that will offset their higher prices and may be more affordable than UCs and CSUs. Please visit www.collegerealitycheck.com for average net price numbers by family income level for estimates by college.
Take advantage of any free fly-in programs to visit colleges. Some colleges looking to diversify their campus will fly in students of color or students who are first in family to attend college to visit their campus. Here is a list of schools that have fly in programs http://getmetocollege.org/hs/2014-diversity-college-weekends-free-fall-visits-for-rising-seniors Click on the link in Recent Posts: 2014 Free Fall Visits for Rising Seniors
Be aware of DEADLINES
- All students are registered on Naviance. Directions to access your account are on the COLLEGE CAREER CENTER HOME page.
- Sit down and have a frank family discussion about what your family can afford for college expenses per year. Make an agreement that AFTER the financial aid packages and scholarships are awarded, your student may only attend a college that falls within the family budget.
- One of the most critical steps in the Financial Aid process is selecting the right college list. Parents and students should look for the following:
Understand what makes up the entire Cost of Attendance – Tuition and fees, Books and Supplies, Room and Board, Personal Expenses & Transportation.
If you decide to attend a UC or CSU please visit www.collegerealitycheck.com and/or College Navigator at http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ for the statistic on the percent of students that graduate in 4 years and 6 years. The percents vary dramatically between schools so it is a good idea to know ahead of time.
EVERYONE regardless of income level should apply for the FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid as a senior in high school. Even if your income is too high to receive grants you may still qualify for student loans and work study.
Apply for as many scholarships as possible and continue applying until you start school next Fall. Many require essays so start early. Often there are fewer applicants that you think and sometimes scholarship dollars go unclaimed.
- Complete or ESTIMATE your taxes EARLY because all financial aid forms are based on your tax returns.
- The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid required by most public and private universities) is due as early as February 1st and as late as March 2nd but earlier is better. You may start applying October 1 at www.FAFSA.gov or calculate what your estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now by going to FAFSA site, finding the section titled “Thinking About College?” and clicking on FAFSA4caster.
- If you are planning to attend a college in California you may be eligible for the Cal Grant. For more information about Cal Grants, the Middle Class Scholarship and financial aid please visit the On-line version of Fund Your Future at http://www.csac.ca.gov/pubs/forms/grnt_frm/fund_your_future_workbook_english.pdf
- The CSS Profile, another financial aid form that is used by some private schools, can be due as early as November 15th and as late as March 2nd but varies by school. The CSS PROFILE opens on October 1, 2014 and can be found at https://profileonline.collegeboard.com/prf/index.jsp
- NEVER miss a priority application date. These earlier application dates will put you into a pool that will automatically consider you for merit scholarships. If you are going to apply for FREE MONEY make sure you are at front of the line. Apply ASAP!
- Apply for Local scholarships on Naviance first by selecting “Local” in the Browse By Category drop down window. These scholarships are generously provided by organizations in our community and often have very few applicants.
- Branch out to other scholarship search engines i.e. www.fastweb.com, www.scholarships.com, www.scholarshipexperts.com and www.finaid.org after you have exhausted your search on Naviance.
List of Important Questions to Ask Colleges Before Applying for Financial Aid
- Does your institution guarantee to meet 100% of financial need, and if not, what percentage of need does your school meet for the average student?
- Does your institution have a standard “unmet need” formula for students who apply for financial aid?
- Does your institution have a maximum ceiling on the financial aid a student can qualify for?
- If my financial need remains the same for the next 4 years, will my student receive the same financial aid package in years 2, 3 and 4 at your institution?
- If my family’s financial need increases in year 2 at your college, will your financial aid package be adjusted accordingly, or will it remain the same?
- If my student doesn’t apply for financial aid in his/her freshman year of college, can he/she apply for aid in future years?
- Is there a “cut-off” date for guaranteeing that a student will receive financial aid?
What is your institution’s policy on packaging outside scholarships into a financial aid award package?
- Financial aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis. At some institutions full financial aid will be reduced for students applying after a certain guarantee date even if the final deadline hasn’t passed.
- Some colleges will start removing grants (free money) first if your student receives outside scholarships, while others will start by removing loans. It makes a big difference.
If you have additional questions related to financial aid and/or scholarships please contact Mrs. Shafer at (310) 377-4888 ext 287 or firstname.lastname@example.org