Financial aid. Those words alone can be enough to make someone cringe. The process of obtaining college funds is complicated, after all. From the FAFSA to the CSS Profile, not to mention all of the personal information required for such forms, getting financial aid for college can be a big ol’ headache. But it doesn’t have to be!Believe it or not, there are people out there who understand things like EFC, loan interest rates, and the whole gamut of confusing money details we all need to deal with in order to get help paying for college. These people, aptly named, are financial aid consultants. Financial aid consulting is a service aimed at helping students maximize their financial assistance.Financial aid consultants are capable of several functions.
- Completing financial aid applications. That’s right, your consultant can walk you through the forms to help you understand better, or even complete them for you! Did you know that a huge chunk of the college population misses out on financial aid because of mistakes on official paperwork? And let’s not forget that the early bird gets the worm; the earlier you file the higher the amount you qualify for. Financial aid consultants know deadlines better than they know their parents’ birthdays. It’s great to have an expert by your side.
- Discussing various aid options. Your consultant will explain the differences between the federal loans, as well as suggest private loans if they are truly necessary. He or she may also encourage you to pursue gift aid, AKA scholarships and grants. While some grants are federal, your consultant can introduce you to an array of organization or group-sponsored grants (and maybe even something you’re eligible for but didn’t know). If you have a particular skill that may land you a scholarship, team up with you consultant to find something relevant.
- Determining the fairness of your aid award offer. When you finally get your SAR from both FAFSA and your university, sit down with your consultant to go over each of them. Financial aid consultants can tell a mile away what aid you should accept (remember you don’t HAVE to take all that is offered to you, but perhaps instead accept the very best options). The goal is certainly to receive maximum funds, but not at the expense of your future bank account (i.e. loan debt).
So you’re probably thinking, “Well this all sounds great, but no one does anything for free these days. What is this going to cost me?” It’s true that it isn’t free, we won’t lie to you. Check out our solutions page for various packages and pricing on consulting services. Those numbers are pretty low compared to what you’d be missing out on due to confusion, mistakes, corrections, etc. regarding paperwork. Think about it. Go Financial Aid wants to maximize your college aid.