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How to Apply for Financial Aid for College

How to Apply for Financial Aid for College

The process of applying for financial aid can be overwhelming. Here, we tell you how to go about the process, so that you can avail the benefits of all that it has to offer.
Puja Lalwani
Not everyone can afford to go to college, with the huge fees that are required. However, a lot of students do receive different kinds of financial aid or scholarships based on different factors. There are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled to obtain financial aid for college. For one, you have to be a citizen of the United States of America. Next, you will have to document proof that you indeed need the money. Not only your need but your abilities as a student play an important role. Your grades in school, along with participation in extracurricular activities will help in determining your chances of receiving financial aid. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply. It is awarded to deserving candidates each year, and depending on your circumstances, you may be able to receive financial aid upon reapplying. With this information, it is important to understand how you can apply for it.

Applying for Financial Aid for College

All students who wish to apply for federal financial aid must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is a general application that will allow you to qualify for the different types of financial aid available for college education. The process of application goes about as follows:
  1. First and foremost, a student has to apply for admission to a particular college before the deadline. In any case, this application should be made at the earliest.
  2. This application has a deadline. The best time to put forth the application is when a student is in the senior year, after the 1st of January, but as early as possible. This is because the amount of financial aid available is limited, and how much will be provided is decided as soon as a student gains admission into the college. This means, if you are late for the process, you are likely to miss out on the funds awarded.
  3. After your application has been received, the financial aid office of the college you have applied to will review it to see if you deserve the aid, and how much you deserve. You will be judged in five aspects―the cost of your course, the income of your family, the size of your family, the number of family members who are also in college at the same time, and the assets owned by your family.
  4. After all these aspects have been approved, you will be granted aid depending on your requirement as well as the amount available.
  5. You will be notified by the admission office or the financial aid office of your college if you have been awarded the required financial aid.
While the aid might be essential for you, it is a little too optimistic to pin all your hopes of going to college based on it. There are so many applicants each year, and the process is so competitive, it is possible that you may not receive the aid you were hoping for. This is why it is always advisable to apply early, and every year, until possible.

The process does involve a lot of paperwork. However, if you consult a counselor or ask for details from the financial aid office of your college, you will be able to fulfill the necessary application requirements. Though you are equipped with all the necessary information, you should always be prepared with a backup plan. Starting in a college that is less expensive and then transferring later to a university may help. Else, be prepared to work part-time while studying. Finally, you can also try to apply for a student loan. Whatever you do, don't give up on your dreams. Education is extremely important in today's world.