Happy New Year! With 2012 now out the door and 2013 beginning, it’s likely that many of us have made resolutions for this new year. Lose that holiday weight, finally clean out the closet of all the old clothes and shoes or even find that dream job you’ve been hoping for. But what about financial aid? OK, maybe we don’t really want to think about college money, but it’s definitely important. So let’s think about some financial aid resolutions to set.
- File the FAFSA. The financial aid season officially starts TODAY. January 1st is here, so now you can file that form that is of such incredible importance. The FAFSA puts college students in the running to receive federal financial aid in the form of loans and grants.
- Look for gift aid. Aside from federal financial aid, students can look forward to money they need not pay back. This is why we call scholarships and grants “gift” aid. Many students will finish college with some amount of accumulated debt from loans, and it’s important not to compound on that. Scholarships, as you may know, are available for many reasons and different groups of people. Common opportunities include those offered for athletic prowess, though less thought about opportunities are those like scholarships for women in particular. Grants, too, can be found in many places. Individual colleges sometimes offer them in the form of school-sponsored aid and so do organizations like churches or nonprofits.
- Hire a financial aid consultant. If you are struggling with the first two resolutions on your own, don’t fret. Financial aid is a confusing sea of money, paperwork and financial jargon if you aren’t used to it. EFC? Gross Adjusted Income? What do these things mean? Go Financial Aid consultants have solutions to help you and your family to understand the FAFSA and the many pieces of information it requires, corresponding financial aid deadlines and will ensure that your answers are as complete and accurate as possible on applications. Google offers a limitless supply of information on scholarships and grants as well, but it’s easy to agree that this can be hard to sift through. A consultant will help to locate scholarship opportunities and grants that your skills and interests align with.
Now these are just a few things to keep in mind for the new year and the new financial aid season. Aside from aid itself, consider making generalized college resolutions, too. Study more, resolve to set personal assignment deadlines for yourself to avoid procrastination and cramming or even resolve to set a bedtime for yourself during the week so as to avoid being drowsy in class. All of these will help to streamline the financial aid process and keep you in better shape at school! Let’s do it! Happy New Year!