Some students wonder if they must apply for aid for college.  In a general sense, no; financial aid is optional.  However, many don’t apply simply because of the lengthy application process. Specifically, if you do want aid, yes you must apply via the FAFSA.  FAFSA determines your level of financial need and sends a financial aid award estimate for personal review.  It’s your choice, but not applying equates to a lot of college money you’re missing out on.

Many have heard that education is the key to the future.  This is true because college is the education that will teach you how to make a livelihood later on.  School is a worthwhile investment.  College is expensive, though, and individual financial situations vary.  It’s a good thing that this is considered through the financial aid process.

It is important to differentiate between the following: need-based aid and non-need based aid. 

Need-based financial aid is received because a student demonstrates a strong level of financial need.  Education loans are big contributors under this type of aid.  It is beneficial that many have low interest rates, due in part to the government providing them. Need-based loans are also subsidized, so the government takes charge of your loan interest payments during your course of study.

Non-need based financial aid includes loans helpful in paying for education, but these are not strictly based on the overall financial circumstances of a student.  Many individuals need college money, but their lower financial need levels disqualify them for need-based loans.  Interest rates are often higher, and the loans are unsubsidized (interest not paid for by government).  All of this leads to a more debt at the end, interest added on.  If it’s possible, try to make interest payments during school to keep your debt down.

Learn about the options for aid for college.  Decide which loans appear to be the best for you, depending on your circumstances, accepting the aid awards that promise to be most helpful to your cause.  Your FAFSA dictates what you are eligible for, but try to balance between accepting the most aid possible and considering which aid will benefit you most.  Take advantage of all possible resources during your search for financial aid.  Ask your family, friends, a financial aid consultant and anyone else for their input.  Remember that Go Financial Aid is always excited to offer great solutions to college students, new or seasoned, as well as their families.

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