One of the more stresses aspects of going to college is applying for financial aid. Whether looking at a student loan, government grants, or other financial programs, the process involves time, paperwork, and questions, all causing stress. Amazingly, for some people the process becomes so complex that rather than forge ahead, they give up on a college education. Of course, your counselor at the college or university where you want to attend should provide a wealth of information but because this process is stressful, we wanted to offer some helpful tips when applying for financial aid.
It is important to understand that when applying for financial aid, you are in competition with other students all vying for money that comes from a pool. While student loans are unique, grants and other programs are limited. Therefore, each time someone qualifies for financial aid, the amount of available money decreases. For this reason, once you know the college or university you want to attend and have direction regarding education, there is not time to delay. In addition, remember that deadlines that have to do with applying for financial aid vary significantly from one educational institution to another so contact the college or university of choice to find out the time line for application.
In addition, keep a log of anyone you speak to specific to applying for financial aid. Log the person’s name, date and time of the conversation, and information shared. Along with this, copy all paperwork that you provide. While most colleges and universities do a great job during the financial aid process, things can fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, this means conversations and documentation can be lost so having logged discussions you have had with the financial aid office and maintaining a copy of all paperwork would allow for quick recovery.
You also want to follow all instructions provided when applying for financial aid. This means doing exactly what your counselor advises but also doing what the government or other programs require. You would be surprised by the number of people who miss receiving money for college simply because they failed to follow instructions. When completing the application, pay close attention to the details so all information and documents are provided. With this, the process of applying for financial aid would go smoother and quicker.
If at any time during the application process you have questions or concerns, use the services of the financial aid office. The people who work in financial aid have the expertise needed to help you along the way so ultimately, you get the money needed to complete your college education. As a part of this, never procrastinate in that you may not have enough time. Instead, the minute you need assistance, ask. Even a few days could impact you getting money or not.
Finally, follow up as time passes. You have both the right and responsibility to get updates when applying for financial aid so after being provided with an estimated deadline for different parts of the process, make sure to follow up. This coupled with completing all requirements and following the suggestions provided would increase your chance of getting money to attend college.