Student financial aid can make a difference in your college choice and life after college. Receiving financial aid may allow you to continue your education, or it may allow you to attend a school despite higher costs. Applying for federal student aid is FREE. It is also time sensitive. First, you and your parent(s) will need to create a Federal Student Aid ID. Then, make sure to submit your 2018-19 FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st of your senior year. Until then, you may want to complete the FAFSA4Caster online for help determining your estimated financial aid eligibility. Follow these steps to the financial aid process and then review these Helpful Hints.
Usually, students are eligible for more gift aid at higher cost schools than at lower cost schools. Until you apply for institutional need-based and merit-aid programs and receive a financial aid award, you will not be able to determine the true cost of enrolling at one school over another. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you evaluate factors other than just the "sticker price" when looking at potential colleges. Factors include academic offerings, academic support services, size, location, single sex or co-ed, diversity, housing opportunities, religious ties, and social atmosphere. With the tremendous amount of financial assistance available, both gift aid and self-help aid (jobs and loans), most students who have followed the correct application process on time will be able to attend his or her first choice school if offered admission. By receiving scholarships from outside sources, a student has the opportunity to improve his or her financial aid by increasing the total award and/or converting self-help into gift aid.
There are many opportunities to receive scholarship funds for college. Like most valuable opportunities in life, the more a student puts into the search for gift aid funding, the more likely he or she is to receive gift aid. There are now so many ways to discover funds available to assist with educational expenses on the post-secondary level, it is usually unwise to pay a firm to do a scholarship search for you. Instead, take the time to explore the free resources available to students and their parents.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Completing Your FAFSA
- How to create an FSA ID
- When working on the FAFSA online, use the “live help” button or the online chat feature
- Call the FAFSA hotline at 800.433.3243 or TYY 800.730.8913
- Read the "Completing the FAFSA 2017-18" booklet online www.studentaid.gov
- View helpful YouTube videos
- Complete the FAFSA on the Web worksheets
- #AskFAFSA Office Hours—the last Wednesday of each month on Twitter or watch the stream live
- CSS/PROFILE (additional form if applying for financial aid to Davidson, Duke, Elon, UNC-Chapel Hill, & Wake Forest)
- Compare your financial aid awards using this tool
- Scholarship Links for NC Colleges
- The Foundation for the Carolinas scholarships