The financial aid process can be a long and confusing one.  If you ended up here, odds are that you believe you are eligible for aid, but you would like some clarification on how to get financial aid.  There are several important steps to remember when seeking college funding.

Complete the FAFSA.  If financial aid is a priority, this form is necessary to file in order to receive any financial aid consideration from the government.  An easy rule to remember is that the earlier the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is submitted, the more funds are available.  FAFSA operates under a first-come, first-served basis, making it a wise idea for students to apply in January.  Always keep the financial aid deadline in mind.

Non-federal applications are key.  Certain schools require their students to submit financial aid applications in addition to the FAFSA.  A completed College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is often used to determine eligibility for non-governmental, institutional financial aid.  These aid forms include grants and scholarships from the university.  Other financial aid supplement applications may also be available, serving to maximize college financial assistance.

Examine the student aid report.  Approximately one month from receiving and analyzing the application, FAFSA sends out a detailed report outlining a student’s financial aid eligibility.  Be sure to double-check it for accuracy and indicate any changes.

Consider other financial aid options.  College funding often comes from sources outside of the government or specific schools.  Various companies provide scholarships and grants to students interested in their particular field, and numerous state agencies offer aid as well.  The list of available types of aid for students is extensive.

Verify your award.  Similar to receiving the aid report from FAFSA, individual universities will send reports on the actual aid reserved for specific students.  This is the money that will be disbursed, not an estimate, so check the letter’s accuracy and direct any questions to the university’s financial aid office.  When all seems correct, sign to accept the offered financial aid award.

Sign the Promissory Note.  Now that the aid package from the school has been accepted, it is time to fill out the Master Promissory Note(s) associated with education loans.  Each student must pledge, by signing this document, that he or she will repay all loan debt upon the completion of a degree program.

These steps should provide a basis for how to get financial aid.  For convenience and faster processing, each document is available to students online, and various solutions are available to help in the completion phase.

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