Students have a lot of questions about their financial aid, and the overwhelming information can make it difficult to figure out what’s going on. Here are some tips on how you’ll be able to help yourself become more financially stable in college with these seven secrets that no one is talking about.

The “why is financial aid important for students” is a question that many people ask. There are 7 secrets that students need to know about how to get the most out of their financial aid.

7 financial aid secrets students need to know

It’s easy for a student (or parent) to get caught up in the college application process and forget about financial assistance. You spend so much time preparing for the SATs (or ACTs) and fine-tuning your college essay to ensure that it properly reflects you that you may experience some anxiety after you’ve been admitted and the reality of tuition payments sets in.

It’s no secret that education costs a lot of money. Students and parents put in years of effort to pay for higher education, but it isn’t always enough. According to the Sallie Mae research “How America Pays for College 2021,” parent income and savings covered 46% of college expenditures, while student income and savings covered 8%.

Many of us depend on financial assistance to help us make ends meet. Scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans, and private student loans are all possible sources of financial help.

Scholarships and grants are excellent sources of financial help since students are seldom asked to repay the funds they receive. According to Sallie Mae’s analysis, 72 percent of college families depended on scholarships and grants to pay a part of their education fees in 2021.

Navigating College Financial Aid Packages

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The Financial Aid Process

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Scholarships, scholarships, and savings are sometimes insufficient to meet the expense of education. In 2021, according to Sallie Mae, 47 percent of college families borrowed money to help pay for education. Some families utilized credit cards and home equity loans, but federal student loans were the most popular form of borrowing, followed by private student loans.

To make matters worse, the financial assistance application procedure is complex. It might be challenging to keep track of all the federal assistance and other awards.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Help is usually the initial step in applying for financial aid (FAFSA). On October 1, you may start filling out the FAFSA for the next school year. For the 2022–23 school year, the federal FAFSA due is June 30, 2023, however universities and states may have their own FAFSA deadlines.

The College Scholarship Service Profile is a form that certain colleges use to assess scholarship assistance.

Making the effort to apply for financial assistance as soon as possible will help you save money on your tuition. Below are seven financial assistance secrets you should be aware of.

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1. Summer Melt vs. Decision Day

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The deadline for prospective college students to determine which institution they want to attend in the autumn is generally May 1. Students may alter their minds even after the deadline has passed. Summer melt is a term used by industry experts to describe a condition that is occasionally prompted by FAFSA verification difficulties.

For example, students who do not get enough need-based financial assistance may be forced to reevaluate their college enrollment plans. If you’ve run into an FAFSA verification barrier, summer melt may provide you with a chance to choose a more economical school.

Summer melt is a typical occurrence that results in schools losing pupils during the summer. As a result, institutions may have some wiggle space in their acceptance policies to enroll new students for the autumn semester over the summer.

fizkes/istockphoto contributed this image.

2. Letter Writing

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With this trick, you may be able to take advantage of summer melt: compose a letter. You might send a letter to your school’s financial aid office after receiving your financial assistance offer to establish contact.

Tell them you’re looking forward to starting school in the autumn. That’s where you may politely inquire about any extra assistance you might be eligible for as a consequence of the summer melt.

When students move schools or decide not to attend at the last minute, they are also forfeiting their financial aid award, which may now be accessible to other students.

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3. Contacting the Office of Financial Aid

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Calling your school’s financial aid office is another approach to possibly take advantage of summer melt. Consider phoning in June or July instead than soon after receiving your financial assistance award. This gives financial aid agencies time to account for students who have turned down help packages.

A timely contact to your school’s financial aid office might result in more financial help being assigned to your package – there are no promises, but it never hurts to ask.

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4. On-Time Submission of Paperwork and Applications

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Every financial aid office at a school must stick to a budget. Because some financial assistance is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, submitting documents like the FAFSA and other applications on time or even ahead of schedule is advantageous.

If you apply for financial help after your university’s financial aid office has fulfilled their budget for the year, you could be out of luck. Some states have scholarship and grant deadlines in the early winter. To be eligible for a state-funded Tennessee Student Assistance Award, Tennessee residents must submit their FAFSA by February 1.

The Federal Student Assistance webpage of the United States Department of Education provides information on financial aid deadlines in your state.

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5. Being Well-Informed

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Before you head down to fill out the FAFSA, be sure you have everything you need. You’ll have a simpler time filling out the FAFSA if you have all of the information you need before you start.

Typically, each parent and student will need to establish a Federal Student Aid ID, which includes a username and password (FSA ID). You will also require:

  • Numbers from Social Security (for you and your parents)
  • Untaxed income records and bank statements (possibly)
  • Tax returns for you and your parents (aid awards are based on income from two years ago)
  • W2 forms in general
  • Calculating your investments’ net value (for students and parents)

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6. Avoiding Services that Charge You for Assistance

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If you need help filling out the FAFSA, stay away from paid services. Because the initial F in FAFSA stands for “free,” there is no need to hire a service to fill out the form for you.

If you need help filling out the FAFSA, the US Department of Education has a wealth of tools available online.

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7. Annually submitting the FAFSA

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You must submit the FAFSA every year you are a student and wish to receive federal help. Make it a practice to file it every autumn to ensure you’re towards the front of the financial assistance queue.

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The Conclusion

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Scholarships and grants may be quite beneficial when supplementing a government financial assistance package. The funds may be used to decrease your tuition cost and are normally not required to be returned. Work-study programs may also assist college students in making ends meet.

More information: 

MediaFeed.org syndicated this story, which first appeared on SoFi.com.

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The “benefits of financial aid for college students” is a post that discusses 7 secrets that students need to know. The article also talks about how some colleges have been offering more than $7,000 in financial aid.

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