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Are you worried about what your student loans might mean to your future?
You are not alone. Parents fret about it and so do some colleges and universities. In fact, several colleges and universities have adopted generous “no loans” financial aid policies, where grants replace loans in your financial aid package. While most institutions offer a no-loans policy to families from low-income backgrounds, a small number extend the policy to all of their students.
A no-loans policy replaces federal student loans with grants that the university pays.
However, note that most colleges with “no loans” financial aid policies aren’t truly eliminating all loans. Many of these colleges require a minimum student contribution that could include part-time student employment and/or student loans. Instead of a “no loans” policy, some colleges have adopted a low cap on the amount students can borrow. Even so, your average debt at graduation is likely to be much lower than at other schools.
Here is one secret that you may not know. All of the Ivy League institutions (Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth) have “no loans” policies.
See the next page for a list of no-loan schools. Also, if you are interested in a college consultation with our experts, let us know.
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The 2018–19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is now available! If you plan to attend college between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, you should fill out your FAFSA form as soon as possible. Before you rush to fill it, read this blog to make sure you don’t make one of these common mistakes:
1. Not Completing the FAFSA Form
Here are the top reasons why people don't complete it:
It does matter. For one, contrary to popular belief, there is no income “cut-off” when it comes to federal student aid. You can always get an unsecured loan. Also, the FAFSA form is not just the application for federal grants such as the Federal Pell Grant, it’s also the application for Federal Work-Study funds, federal student loans, and even scholarships and grants offered by your state, school, or private organization. If you don’t complete the FAFSA form, you could lose out on thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. It takes little time to complete, and there are “Help and Hints” provided throughout the application.
If you want to get the most financial aid possible, fill out the FAFSA form ASAP after Oct. 1. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states and colleges run out of money early. Even if it seems like your school’s deadline is far off in the future, get your FAFSA form done ASAP.
3. Not Getting an FSA ID
It’s important to get an FSA ID before filling out the FAFSA form. Why? Well, because when you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA form electronically. An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites, including fafsa.gov. Do not wait! Create an FSA ID now: StudentAid.gov/fsaid.
4. Not Using Your FSA ID to Start the FAFSA Form
When you go to fafsa.gov, you will be given two options to log in:
1) Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID
2) Enter the student’s information
If you’re the student, you should choose the first option. Why? When you do, some of your personal information (name, Social Security number, date of birth, etc.) will be automatically loaded into your application. This will prevent you from running into a common error that occurs when your verified FSA ID information doesn’t match the information on your FAFSA form. Also, you won’t have to enter your FSA ID again to transfer your information from the IRS or to sign your FAFSA form electronically.
5. Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)
Note: The IRS DRT will return with the 2018–19 FAFSA form on Oct. 1, 2017, with additional security and privacy protections added.
For many applicants, the most difficult part about filling out the FAFSA form is entering the financial information. But thanks to a partnership with the IRS, students and parents who are eligible can automatically transfer their necessary 2016 tax information into the 2018–19 FAFSA form using the IRS DRT. It’s the fastest, most accurate way to enter your tax return information into the FAFSA form, so if you’re given the option to “LINK TO IRS” button, take advantage of it!
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You are all ready to go to college. You have gotten financial aid and are all excited. But did you budget for these hidden and unexpected fees? Like: orientation fees and freshman fees, and extra charges to finish, such as senior fees and commencement fees. Look at the list below and see for yourself!
P.S. The fee amount and type above can change anytime. Please research the hidden fees of your target colleges.
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FAFSA missteps can delay the processing of your application, which isn't ideal for state and college aid given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Avoid these common mistakes:
1. Not filing
Even if you don't think you'll qualify for need-based aid, a completed FAFSA is required to apply for federal student loans, and to qualify for many universities' merit-based aid. Plus, many families are wrong about their qualifications.
In a 2015 study, it was estimated that 2 million students who didn't file the FAFSA in 2011-2012 would have qualified for Pell Grants of about $4,700 apiece.
2. Filing for the wrong year
The changes to the FAFSA have created a unique overlap this fall: Forms are available for two academic years, both of which use data from tax year 2015. Make sure you're completing the correct form for next year, the 2017-2018 academic year.
3. Missing financial aid deadlines
If you file the FAFSA late, you may miss out on some financial aid.
4. Repeating tax-return deadlines
You will be surprised common tax-return missteps, like swapping digits on your Social Security number or other figures, are also common on the FAFSA. Porting in data from your tax return can help avoid this problem on many questions, but it's still smart to double-check all figures before submitting your forms.
5. Filing for “you”
Remember that the student is the applicant, the parent is the parent. Although a parent is filling out the FAFSA, on most of the application, references to "you" or "your" is asking for the student's information. Wrong data here will result in numbers gauging aid eligibility as if the parent is going to college, rather than the child.
6. Don't be confused by the term “investments”
The FAFSA instructions concerning investments are confusing. Even though qualified retirement plans and the family home are investments, they are not reported as investments on the FAFSA.
7. Errors in student or parent marital status
You must report marital status as of the date the FAFSA is filed. You cannot anticipate a future change in status.
8. Reporting the wrong parent’s financial information (if parents are divorced)
It is generally beneficial to have the parent with the lower income complete the FAFSA. Ideally, the divorced or separated parent who handles the FAFSA will be the one with the lowest income. That's because only his or her finances will be shared on the aid form.
9. Failing to account for the step parent factor
Step parent income and assets must be reported, even if there is a prenuptial agreement. This can reduce aid eligibility. But if the stepparent has children from a previous marriage, it can increase aid eligibility. The stepparent can count them in household size and the number in college (if they are enrolled at least half-time in college) if the stepparent provides more than half their support, even if they don’t live with the stepparent.
10. Reporting wrong tax filing status (e.g., head of household)
Certain tax filing statuses are error prone, especially head of household status. Just because a tax filing status will result in a lower tax liability doesn’t mean you are entitled to use it.
11. assuming income cut-off
Contrary to popular belief, there is no income cut-off when it comes to federal student aid.
12. Not Getting an FSA ID Ahead of Time
FAFSA has made big changes this year in order to increase security. Students and parents can no longer use a Federal Student Aid PIN to log in and sign the FAFSA online. You must, instead, use the new FSA ID—a username and password. Once you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA. If you don’t want your FAFSA to be delayed, register for an FSA ID now. If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need to create an FSA ID too.
13. Waiting to Fill Out
The FAFSA Until After You File Taxes Because some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s important to fill out the FAFSA early.
14. Not Filing by the Deadline
States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA deadlines. To maximize the amount of your financial aid, you should fill out your FAFSA (and any other financial aid applications that may be required by your state or school), by the earliest of these three deadlines, if not sooner!
15. Not Reading Definitions Carefully
When it comes to completing the FAFSA, you want to read each definition and question carefully. Too many students see delays in their financial aid for simple mistakes that could have been easily avoided.
Don’t rush through these questions:
16. Listing only one college
Two-thirds of freshmen FAFSA applicants list only one college on their applications. Do not make this mistake! Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add ANY college you are considering to your FAFSA, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll apply or be accepted. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these steps.
17. Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
For many, the most difficult part about filling out the FAFSA is entering in the financial information. But now, thanks to a partnership with the IRS, students and parents who are eligible can automatically transfer the necessary tax info into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
18. Not Signing the FAFSA
So many students answer every single question that is asked, but fail to actually sign the FAFSA with their FSA ID and submit it. This happens for many reasons, maybe they forgot their FSA ID, or their parent isn’t with them to sign with the parent FSA ID, so the FAFSA is left incomplete. Don’t let this happen to you. If you don’t have or don’t know your FSA ID, register for one. If you would like confirmation that your FAFSA has been submitted, you can check your status immediately after you submit your FAFSA online.
19. Don't procrastinate
If you procrastinate until April, when your income taxes are due, you could miss deadlines for state financial aid assistance, as well as help from your child's school. If completing your income tax promptly is impossible, fill out the FAFSA with estimated numbers. If estimating, you can log back into your FAFSA account with the updated figures later.
20. Failing to Ask for help
When filling out the FAFSA, you can obtain help through the government's toll-free number: (800) 433-3243. You can also take advantage of the government's online chat sessions by using FAFSA on the Web Customer Service Live Help from Monday through Saturday.
21. Failing to Correct mistakes
You can correct errors after you've submitted your FAFSA. Return to your online form and click on "Make FAFSA Corrections." The government will process your changes within three to five days.
22. Failure to Collect a "tax scholarship"
Students and families can get several kinds of tax breaks for their educational expenses. Low- and middle-income families can collect American Opportunity tax credits (AOTC) of up to $2,500 per tax year.
Another tax deduction option is the lifetime learning credit, which grants up to $2,000 per tax year. It's an either-or situation for families, though; the lifetime learning credit and the AOTC cannot both be applied for by the same student in the same year.
23. Failure to Get a late-deadline scholarship
If the due dates for many large merit-based scholarships have passed, use the web to find scholarships and scout around your community for any remaining opportunities. Sites such as Fastweb.com match a student's profile against a database of scholarships and only consider applications that are still available.
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If you have filled out the FAFSA form, you might think you are done.
You are in for a surprise!
The FAFSA only covers federal student aid and not the financial aid from colleges and universities themselves.
About 400 colleges, organizations and private high schools offer scholarships and grants. They want more details about your finances to determine how much aid they’re willing to give you. If you aren’t aware of this extra step when applying for financial aid, you may not get all that you’re eligible for and may regret it later when it is too late.
These institutions use the CSS PROFILE administered by the College Board, the creators of the SAT.
It isn’t free. On top of each college application fee, you’ll need to add $25.00 for the initial filing (which includes sending the PROFILE to one college), then $16.00 to send it to each additional college.
It takes 45 minutes to two hours to complete the PROFILE. Some of the items you need to fill the form are:
Some of the institutions that use CSS PROFILE are:
Did you know that $14K Financial aid dollars received by the average undergrad last year
When do I file the PROFILE? You may file the PROFILE as early as Oct. 1, 2016. However, you should file no later than two weeks before the EARLIEST priority filing date specified by your colleges or programs.
How much the PROFILE cost? The fee for the initial application and one college or program report is $25. Additional reports are $16.
Questions? Contact customer support at 844-202-0524 or email email@example.com.