It's FAFSA Time!
Yes, it's that time of year, again. Time for seniors and parents alike to start the stressful task of determining how to get the most money for their son or daughter for college. Well, try not to stress out too much - help is always just around the corner. The financial aid game is not as scary as most think. Basically, it all starts with the FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is key for students when seeking financial assistance for college. The FAFSA will determine if a student is eligible for grants (free money awarded by the state, the federal gov't or the university), work-study (work provided to help pay tuition), or loans.
In a nutshell, financial need is determined by,
1. looking at all the money that comes into a household (income, social security, child support, etc...) to determine a family's financial capabilities - also known as the Expected Family Contribution - EFC).
2. the cost of attending (COA) a certain college or university and
3. the difference between the two. Now, this does not mean that Uncle Sam will take care of all that a student needs, but it's a starting point. In reality, most students use a combination of assistance to pay for college (scholarships, income from working, parents, grants and loans).
In order to complete the FAFSA form, the best advice is to have your 2015tax information at hand and basic information such as social security numbers and dates of birth. In addition, because the FAFSA is an online application, both students and parents will need to apply for a FSA ID number so that the FAFSA can be electronically signed. ID numbers can be obtained at fafsa.gov.
Even though the FAFSA has gotten so much more "user-friendly" over the past few years, many are still perplexed or intimidated by the process. Thankfully, FAFSA Day is a wonderful opportunity to get free hands-on assistance. This year FAFSA Day will be held on Feb. 20th at Wayne Community College and Mount Olive College from 9-12. Individuals wishing to attend should register at www.cfnc.org. Participants are asked to please come prepared with the proper documents. Several local volunteers will be present to answer questions and to help you complete the final online application. CFNC will also host a financial aid workshop for parents and students at
If you are unable to attend FAFSA Day, please contact me, Kerri Loury at 739-7072. I'd be glad to help you any way I can.
Finally, a few important things to remember:
1. No student can receive loans and/or grants without completing the FAFSA, so APPLY!
2. Your tax informatio is required on the FAFSA so complete your taxes ASAP!!
3. Parents and students are asked to apply as early as possible to make themselves eligible for the maximum amount of funds - some funds are given on a first-come, first-served basis. I recommend completing your FAFSA by the end of February.
4. Lots of additional information can be found at www.fafsa.gov and also at https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa. FAFSA worksheets can be downloaded here as well.
5. Students intending on staying a 5th year and planning to attend college in the Spring (Jan.) of 2017 must apply this year for the FAFSA.