The purpose of college financial aid is to help every qualified student pay the growing cost of a higher education. The time needed to process a financial aid application is lengthy and experts recommend that students apply at the college or university of their choice even before they actually know whether or not they have received acceptance at that school.
Scholarships in general, are awarded for academic accomplishment and of financial need. Students may also receive a specialized recruitment scholarship based on athletic, musical, or other special skills. College financial aid office and admissions personnel will determine a student's eligibility for these scholarships. Some students may qualify for several scholarships. The best scholarships to receive are multi-year awards. Multi-year scholarships are guaranteed for more than one school year as long as the student remains in good academic standing. Some multi-year scholarships can be guaranteed for a student's entire college career.
Although most scholarships and grants are awarded by college financial aid officers, there are other types of scholarships and grants available to students. In seeking financial support for college, many students overlook the many national Hispanic organizations offering scholarships. There are several major organizations which include the HSF (Hispanic Scholarship Fund), LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens), the American GI Forum, TACHE (Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education), HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities), and others. HSF, the largest of these organizations, awards more than $30 million in scholarships to thousands of Hispanic students annually. High school guidance counselors can also be of great help in identifying scholarship opportunities.
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A type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are usually awarded based on need, possibly combined with some skills or characteristics the student possesses. Grants, which usually come from state or federal monies, are much like scholarships, but are usually awarded on a one-time basis often based on economic need. Grants can be renewed every year as long as students remain eligible and funds remain available. The largest provider of college grants for low-income students is the federal government.
Work-Study is another popular way of financing a college education. Many students work while attending college. Under the Federal Work-Study Program, which is funded jointly by the federal government and the school, students can gain valuable experience while working either on campus or in qualifying positions off campus. Work-Study jobs are scheduled so as not to conflict with a student's schoolwork during the regular academic year. By law, no student works more than 20 hours a week under the Work-Study program. Students sometimes qualify to work longer hours during summers or between semesters.
Work-Study jobs offer an opportunity for students to learn administrative work in a college office, service in a community-based organization, or other types of work that match a student's interest and enrich the learning experience. Federal Work-Study awards are based on financial need. A student's eligibility for Work-Study must be determined by the college financial aid office.
FEDERAL WORK-STUDY (FWS) PROGRAM
This program allows students to earn money while going to school. Schools provide part-time jobs to students who qualify.
A sum of money lent by public or private agencies, to be used for the costs of school. Repayment is required. Interest accrues and is capitalized (added to the principle amount). There are two main groups of loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.
If students think there was a mistake made in the financial aid package received, they have the right to ask for a reconsideration, especially if family circumstances have changed or if they can provide the financial aid office with additional information that was not initially presented.
There are some grants or fellowships for college students that require repayment unless certain conditions are met. Some schools offer "forgivable" loans designed to encourage students to perform well and finish their education. If they do, their loans are "forgiven." If they don't perform up to academic standards or if they drop out of college, they must pay back the funds they borrowed. Students will always be informed of their responsibilities in these cases and will be required to sign a written contract stipulating the terms of their acceptance of most awards. These grants or scholarships, which may be restricted to students studying certain fields, are not as readily available as other types of grants and scholarships.
NEED-BASED – Student assistance awarded because a student’s financial circumstances would not permit them to afford school. Financial need is usually calculated as the difference between the actual cost of attendance and the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
MERIT-BASED – Student assistance awarded because of a student’s achievement or talent in a particular area, such as academics, athletics, music, etc.
EFC – A number denoting the amount a student and his/her family are expected to pay toward the cost of attendance. EFC is calculated by a congressionally mandated formula known as the Federal Methodology
For a student to be eligible for financial aid, he or she is required to:
Every prospective college student, that is an eligible non-citizen, must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This financial aid application can be requested from any college financial aid office, from the FAFSA website (http://www.fafsa.gov), or you can now complete a FAFSA online.
To learn more about Financial Aid and FAFSA, click here.
Once the financial aid application has been processed, students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a summary of your application. Your SAR will be forwarded to the schools of your choice. Those schools will use the information in your SAR to determine your financial need and extend a financial aid offer. Your SAR will also tell you what the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) amount is. The EFC is the amount of money that parents are estimated to pay. This is also determined by the information you provide in the FAFSA application. For more information about SAR click here
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