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How to Help Students Get the Most Financial Aid

Posted by Kate Seat on Mar 3, 2016 7:00:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, financial aid
College is an expensive investment—that’s no secret. Even for your students who earn financial aid as incoming freshmen, it’s often vital for them to reapply, look for additional scholarships, and maintain the grades necessary to keep any multiple-year scholarships. Fortunately, there are many resources and opportunities for continuing or returning students.

How Students Can Get the MOST Financial Aid

Applying for aid and scholarships

College Financial Aid: 10 free websites This list covers everything from just getting started (FAFSA and the College Board) to scholarships and how-to guides.

How to find college scholarships Fairly self-explanatory — where to start looking for scholarships and grants.

Scholarships for non-traditional students List of scholarship options specifically for parents, returning students and women.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator Determine the amount of aid students may receive based on family circumstances.

Financial aid for older and non-traditional students Advice geared toward students age 24-29 and 30 and older.

10 questions students should ask their financial aid office:

via Magnify Money

  1. What is the total cost of the program including books, fees, tuition and housing?
  2. Does your college have a full-need financial aid policy?
  3. Is there one application for financial aid?
  4. Is there a deadline to apply for financial aid? How do I know if I qualify for financial aid?
  5. What types of scholarships are available?
  6. Are scholarships renewable?
  7. How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid?
  8. When will my financial aid offer be mailed to me?
  9. Will you match another college’s financial aid offer?

Deciphering your financial aid letter [infographic]

Tips for maintaining or receiving additional financial aid

All returning students can, and should, apply for financial aid, even if they are unsure of their eligibility. Factors determining the amount of automatic financial aid students receive from the government changes each year, such as the number of siblings also attending college or changes in family financial circumstances, including those of the student specifically.

When your returning students seek financial aid assistance, their first resource should be your school:

  • Encourage them to visit/contact the Financial Aid Services office. The financial aid office should be able to answer any question students have about their aid disbursement.
  • Check the school for scholarship opportunities. Quite often, schools offer scholarships to students based on work completed within their respective major or academic concentration. It’s worthwhile for them to look for these scholarships, especially since most are reserved for returning students.
  • Apply, apply, apply. Continuing students should apply for as many scholarships as possible. Some scholarship applications are lengthier than others, but it is worth the effort and potential reward to fill them out.
  • Emphasize the importance of filling out the FAFSA on time. As you know, continuing students need to fill out a FAFSA every year. Be sure they understand the deadline dates and to update any information that may have changed over the course of the previous year.

About Kate Seat

Kate Seat is a former copywriter at MBS. When away from work, she’s either creating one-of-a-kind art dolls, reading or watching way too much tv with her husband, daughter and an irritable chinchilla named Klaus.

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