What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is any grant or scholarship, loan, or paid employment offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses.
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The first step in qualifying for aid is applying for FAFSA. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students can begin applying for FAFSA on October 1st and have, in the State of Michigan, until March 1st. If you apply for financial aid by March 1st and plan to attend a college within the State of Michigan, then students that qualify for aid are guaranteed to receive it.
Expected Family Contribution
Once completed, the FAFSA will determine your family's "EFC" or Expected Family Contribution. This number, regardless of how small or large, communicates how much of your education you and your parents will be expected to pay for.
Check out the Federal Student Aid website for more information.
Avoid Student Debt
The figure above is frightening. Most students (and parents) want to graduate with as little debt as possible. So, how do you minimize your amount of debt?
- Apply for FAFSA by March 1st.
- Apply for at least 1 state or national scholarship, weekly beginning in July of your senior year. Some great sites to utilize are:
- Apply for any scholarships associated with the college(s) of your interest. Oftentimes when you apply to colleges, you are undecided as to which college you'll actually attend. Most colleges offer private scholarships. Some automatically enter you into the scholarship competition when you apply, whereas others require a separate application. Pay attention to this and complete the additional application, if necessary.
- Apply for all local scholarships that you qualify for. They'll become available in late fall on this site.
I recently came across a site that suggests innovative and out-of-the box ways to afford college. Some of the ideas may not appeal to you, however, others will. Check it out at: http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/graduating-debt-free/