Finding ways to pay for your college education can be an overwhelming task. To make the most of available funding, it is important to understand the different types of aid as well as to realize that your financial aid office is available to help you.
There are two primary types of aid: federal financial aid (based on need) and college scholarships and grants (university and outside awards). To apply for federal financial aid, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. You can complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. From the information submitted, the U.S. Department of Education determines how much aid you should receive and notifies your school. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators also has a website that has helpful resources for students and parents.
Your university will send you information about your federal aid as well as any college scholarships and grants you received. (You may have to complete specific forms for various college scholarships. Check with your university admissions office about applications.) If you have been awarded college scholarship money through an outside source, you should notify your financial aid office immediately so that your financial aid package can be adjusted.
Most universities assign a general counselor, depending on the size of the school, to certain populations. For instance, there may be a counselor for first-year college students, several for returning students, and one for graduate students. If you need to meet with your financial aid officer about your award package or issues with your financial aid, you should contact them directly. It will be important to bring any information you may have about your federal financial aid, as well as college scholarships and grants.