18 Questions You Must Ask The Financial Aid Office

You just received your acceptance letter. Congratulations! You have been accepted in the college of your dreams. But then the harsh reality dawns upon you. Tuition fees plus those extra expenses that come along for being a student is a bit too much. Luckily, every college and university has its own financial aid offices and policies. An aid office is a place where you can receive some money; maybe enough to cover the majority of the expenses. But don’t walk in there blindly and expect to be handed in a bag full of money. Read some necessary questions to maximize the odds of receiving financial aid or obtaining scholarships. Here are 15 important questions to make the process much easier for you. Review them carefully.

The Financial Aid Office

1. How do I contact Financial Aid Office?

For general information regarding federal student financial assistance programs, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). For hearing impaired, the TDD number is 1-800-730-8913.

2. How do I speak to a representative for FAFSA?

To have a chat with representative of FAFSA, you need to dial 1-800-433-3243 and need to say “speak with a customer service representative”

3. What is the income limit for fafsa 2019?

The income threshold for zero EFC has been increased from $25,000 to $26,000 for the year 2019-2020.

4. How much will the program cost you including books, fees and housing?

Don’t assume that the sticker price on the website is showing you the whole picture of expenses that you need to bear in the coming years. Students should inquire about tuition fees including books, room and supplies and other necessary expenses for miscellaneous items that will appear on your student bill.

5. Do you have to submit an application for financial aid?

Many schools request you to fill an application form to determine your eligibility for any or all financial aid available. On the other hand, some colleges require an individual application for separate awards. For instance, alumni scholarship programs and department grants require separate application forms.

6. What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?

You definitely don’t want to miss out on the grant just because you are not aware of the deadline. You are already dealing with too many deadlines so it is easy to miss one when you are not careful enough. Be sure you ask your financial aid counselor about the deadline. It will be best to set a reminder on your phone calendar to remind yourself of impending due dates.

7. How do I know if I am eligible for financial aid?

There are a number of ways to determine whether you qualify for the financial aid: your financial status, the number of students in college, tuition fees of the college, income tax paid and so forth. You can place this question in front of the financial aid officer or you can use the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

8. When will I be notified of financial aid decisions?

It is important to know when your school will inform you about financial aid. It helps you to create a personal time-frame to arrange things in proper manner. Often students accept admission to one college, but regret when they receive a better financial aid package from another college later on. Save yourself from this regret by waiting for all prospective offers before settling on to one. You can always change your mind even after sending the deposit. In that case, you need to sacrifice the deposit of few hundred dollars. It is worth changing your mind if it saves you thousand dollars in the long run.

9. What types of scholarships are available?

Depending on the college and grade point average, you may qualify to apply for need-based or merit-based scholarships. Some schools offer you generous scholarships depending on your academic and athletic achievement. Make sure you ask the financial aid officer whether the awards are competitive. If one of the scholarships is renewable, it is important that you ask how you can keep the award after the first year.

10. What happens if financial circumstances change while studying in school?

You aren’t making commitments for only the first year; three more years are set to come too. It is significant to know how your school will accommodate if something goes wrong like there’s a loss of employment or death in your family. Some schools will straightaway deny your appeal for adjusting to the situation by saying, ‘we already gave you an award, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Fortunately, some schools give you time for appeal or re-evaluation.

11. What if I don’t complete the program in three years?

It is obvious that fewer the years, the less borrowing. But students often forget to add the extra years they need to complete the degree. They don’t realize that it will take longer than three years to graduate, maybe four, five or six years. Hence, they may run out of loan borrowing potential not only annually but on an aggregate level too. So you need to plan for the extra years that you may spend in the school.

12. How much average aid do upperclassmen receive?

Colleges often allure students to go for the financial aids for working freshmen that are only valid for the first year. These types of actions cause the net price of the first year to be low compared to what it will be during the subsequent years. Asking about the average aid awards will enable you to estimate the entire cost of the degree and plan for those extra years you need to complete your degree.

13. How will outside scholarships/grants affect my financial aid?

You are required to report the outside financial aid you receive. The school may apply this aid amount towards your loan and work-study balance, but this is not the case always. Some colleges may reduce the amount you are supposed to receive as financial aid in that college depending on the amount of outside financial aid you have.

14. Are there programs to redeem the cost?

Most federal governments flaunt some grant programs to help the students in college. Unfortunately, either most of the students do not have a clear idea about it or unsure about taking the advantage of these facilities. Financial aid counselors can help with it as they boast a vast knowledge about it.

15. What are the terms of any loan offered?

If you are offered student loans as part of your financial package, it is important that you understand the terms and conditions of the loan. Remember, student loan is like any other loan; you need to pay off the borrowed money after all. Make sure you have full idea of the interest rate you will have to pay from the time you start repaying the loan. If not, ask your financial aid officer.

16. What happens to the financial aid after one year?

Go through the brochure of financial aid award line by line. You need to find answers to questions like what happens if financial aid increases/decreases? How will you plan if you stay the same? Is the award non-renewable or for one time. If a school or college is offering you scholarships and grants, ask the financial aid officer what you can do to keep the financial aid. For e.g. maintaining a certain GPA or stay in the major.

17. How do I finalize my award?

You are accepted to get financial aid, now you will need to find out what steps you have to follow to secure the financial aid. You might need to go the financial aid office again or go on the internet to accept the financial aid award. If you have a student loan as a part of your financial loan, you require singing a promissory note and take part in a counseling session.

18. How and when I will receive my financial aid?

It is the most important question of all. Every school/college boasts different financial aid reimbursement plans. To collect the correct information, you may want to visit financial office physically and ask questions to the financial aid counselor and he/she will be able to help you. Alternatively, you can visit the college website for more information. But it is advisable to talk to the financial aid counselor before you take the final decision.

Knowing how you are going to cover the expenses of studying college is the most critical part of your college career. By visiting the financial aid office and enquiring the right questions to the financial aid counselor, you can ensure a smoother college ride. So be sure to have time while meeting with the financial aid officer at each college and inquire about scholarships opportunities, and calendar all important deadlines. It is not a myth to attend a college of dreams with a lot of less stress.

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