Last week, I wrote about our districts’ efforts to make sure students are college and career ready upon graduation. This week, I want to help students and parents prepare for the costs associated with attending college. College costs continue to increase and a recent survey showed that finding a way to pay for college is one of the biggest concerns for both students and parents. It is important to know that there is financial aid available to help with the cost of college. In fact, over 50 percent of today’s college students receive some form of need-based aid.
The first financial aid form that should be completed is the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is an online application and can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov/. The FAFSA is the one form that will determine a student’s eligibility for need-based programs that are sponsored by state and federal governments, including loans, grants and work-study. Need-based financial aid eligibility is based on two simple issues — the cost of education and a family’s ability to pay. Even if you believe you won’t qualify for any aid, filling out this form is often the first step in applying for many types of aid including federal loans, state grants, and college scholarships. In many cases, the earlier you apply for financial aid, the better. While loans for college expenses are always available, the availability of grants and scholarships which do not have to be repaid ends once these funds have been depleted. Even if you are unsure of college plans, it is important to still complete the financial aid information in order to be considered for part of any possible financial aid funding.
In order to complete the FAFSA, students will need records of income earned in the year prior to when they will start school (tax records from 2015 for students beginning college in 2016). If a student is claimed as a dependent on a parent’s or guardian’s tax return, then students will also need records of this income information. After submitting the FAFSA, the status of the application can be checked on-line. Priority deadlines for most colleges are late spring to early summer. However students can continue to apply until the end of the school year.
I hope this information will be useful to parents and students preparing to go to college after graduation. As always, if you have questions about our schools, please contact me at the Administrative Offices (237-6300) or through e-mail at Susan.Gunnell@huberheightscityschools.org.
Reach Supt. Susan Gunnell at 237-6300 or through e-mail at Susan.Gunnell@huberheightscityschools.org.