• 46°

Planning to go to college? Better start looking at financial aid

The end of the school year may seem like a long time coming, but for the college-bound member of the 2002 graduating class, the time is drawing near to seek out financial aid to pay for higher learning.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

The end of the school year may seem like a long time coming, but for the college-bound member of the 2002 graduating class, the time is drawing near to seek out financial aid to pay for higher learning.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is usually the first step college bound students need to take to determine how much money they can receive to pay for the increasing costs of college. The form, which is available in both paper and electronic formats, allows students to submit financial data to the government to determine financial eligibility.

Once the form is completed, the Federal Department of Education sends the results to the student and to the schools the student lists on their application. The government states that it takes somewhere between one to four weeks to mail the results to the student and schools. The results – called the Student Aid Report – are used by the school to determine if the students qualifies for financial aid.

The amount of financial aid rewarded the student depends on several factors, including full-time or part-time status, length of time in school, and whether or not there are special circumstances, such as unusual medical or dental expenses.

The financial aid package often includes monies from several different federally-funded programs including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work Study and Perkins Loans.

In addition to federal monies, there are state- and school-based financial aid programs available to students, as well as scholarships and grants from private organizations. Students are urged by the federal government to contact their school’s financial aid office and check information on the Web or at the library for more information.

In a bulletin, the federal education department stated that deadlines for aid from the state, schools and private sources tend to be earlier than deadlines for federal aid, and urge students to apply for financial aid as soon as possible after the first of the year.

Students can access more information about the FAFSA form by logging on to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov and following the menu items.