College prep planning: all about the FAFSA part two

Financial aid for college can be confusing. Sno-Isle Libraries is partnering with Andrea Main of Main Education Consulting to provide a series of free college preparation planning programs at the MarinerMukilteo, Granite Falls and Snohomish Libraries this fall. Andrea provides personalized advisory services to individual high school students, and their families, as they navigate the college admissions process. She has over nine years of experience as a college admissions adviser. In 2017, Main Education Consulting was awarded Best of Everett’s Educational Consultant award.

In advance of the college preparation programs, Sno-Isle teens brainstormed their best questions about college and Andrea answered them. Each week we feature new questions.

List the top three reasons why we should get a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

  1. Federal, state and institutional grants/scholarships (money you do not need to pay back)
  2. Federal loans:
    1. Subsidized loans: for students with need: you do not pay loan interest while you are attending school or for a 6-month grace period after leaving school, and
    2. Unsubsidized loans: available to students with no demonstrated need, students must pay interest for the entire length of the loan.
  3. Work study –students with a predetermined level of financial need may be eligible for part-time paid work on campus.

How long is the process to filling out the FAFSA?

If you have all your documents on hand, allow 1 hour to complete FAFSA.  FAFSA is reasonably straight forward.  You should never pay someone to assist with completing your FAFSA—it is a FREE Application for Federal Student Aid.  If you need help, College Goal Washington offers free assistance in October and November for families completing financial aid applications.

Where does FAFSA money come from?

The FAFSA is used to determine the amount of financial aid available to a student in need.  The aid provided to the student comes from federal financial aid programs, state financial aid programs, and institutional aid.

My friend at Everett Community College did not graduate high school, but she is in a program similar to Running Start where her classes count as college and high school credits. Since she does not have a high school diploma but she is enrolled in EvCC, does she qualify for FAFSA? If you have a GED instead of a high school diploma, can you still qualify for FAFSA?

Running Start or other dual enrollment students are not eligible to apply for federal or state aid through FAFSA. Students with a GED who are applying to an eligible degree or certificate program can apply for financial aid through FAFSA.  Since there are some “ability to benefit” alternatives to having a high school diploma or GED, it is always prudent to check with the financial aid department of your prospective college to determine eligibility.

How will FASFA help me in the future?

The FAFSA form is used to calculate a student’s eligibility for federal, state and institutional financial aid.  It helps students with financial need afford college or eligible certificate programs.  Attaining a higher level of education typically improves a person’s employability, earnings, promotability and ability to sustain employment.

When is the due date?

FAFSA opens October 1st for all students who plan to attend college the following fall.  Each college will set its own financial deadline, check their websites.  Students are encouraged to apply to FAFSA as early as possible to get their best possible financial aid package.

What are the things that are being changed this year from past years?

There were two big changes in FAFSA that occurred for the 2017/20118 filing.  FAFSA now opens on October 1st of each year and families use income data from the “prior-prior” year (this year’s FAFSA filings will use information for 2016).

If you have been homeschooled through high school or earlier, can you still apply? How would that work?

Home schooled students who are applying to eligible degree or certificate programs can apply for financial aid through FAFSA.  They should select the “Home schooled” high school completion status on their FAFSA forms.

Come to the Sno-Isle Libraries’ college planning series at one of our community libraries.

College Planning: Fundamentals of Financial Aid and Scholarships with Main Education Consulting to learn more about the FASFA.

College Planning: Touring a College

And check out College Planning: Getting an Early Start

You can also find more information about college planning on our life after high school page!

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