Financial aid is an excellent and beneficial way to help get you through college. School costs are steep for everyone these days, and every extra dime counts. The reality is that no one is just going to hand you this extra money; you must follow specific financial aid requirements to receive funds.
1. This is always the first step to anything regarding college aid: file your FAFSA. To get college money, you must ask for it. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ensures that the federal government will look to see if students qualify for aid, and within a few weeks time will also provide an estimate.
2. Consider all of your options. Federal financial aid is just a part of what contributes to a student’s educational costs. While you wait for your federal aid report or even before, discuss private loans with your bank. Also speak with a financial aid consultant for solid guidance and the tips and tricks to receiving maximum grant and loan money. Take an inventory of your strengths as well, considering what may help you land a great scholarship.
3. When in school, keep your enrollment status at no less than part-time. Many financial aid sources, Stafford and Perkins Loans included, require students to be taking at least a moderate course load. Specifically, part-time in the college world means 6 credits taken per term out of the recommended 12 credits for full-time status. Note that full-time and part-time aid amounts differ, as part-time students do not require as much funding for their smaller course loads (and are often ineligible for campus housing, eliminating room and board fees).
4. Help your own cause. Presumably you are attending a university in order to learn what is necessary to be successful in your chosen field. In academia one should put their best foot forward. This translates to making your best effort and earning good grades in your courses. Some do not realize that their financial aid can be affected by low marks and a subpar GPA. The Stafford Loan, for example, requires students to maintain a 2.0 GPA in order to receive funds. Similar requirements follow suit with scholarships as well. Many scholarships are based on academic merit, and as such have more stringent GPA specifications—3.0 or higher.
While every source of financial aid has its own list of eligibility requirements attached, the preceding financial aid requirements should be followed regardless of aid type. College is an exciting experience for all who take advantage of it, so enjoy it without worry about financial aid! Remember that Go Financial Aid wishes you the best of success, and that we are here to provide the resources you need to navigate the financial aid process.