I know I need financial aid but I’m not at the top of my class. Will I qualify for anything?
Yes. While merit scholarships go to those with the best grades or special skills, the other forms of financial aid are needs-based so you should qualify for some form as assistance. Consider applying at private colleges as the greatest proportion of aid goes to those whose grades fall in the middle of the class.
I don’t think I’ll qualify for financial aid but should I apply anyway?
Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. You never know until you apply so we recommend every family take the time to fill out the form–it’s worth it.
Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?
No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. Pay attention to the deadlines as this is one area schools are not flexible on. Most award letters go out by in early spring to accepted students, and will play an important role in your decision which college you will decide on.
Is it true that state colleges offer the most financial aid?
State-supported colleges and universities are subsidized by their respective state, which allows them to charge less. Beyond this, they don’t offer much additional financing except loans. Actually, it’s private colleges that offer the largest amount of financial aid and a very high percentage of that comes in the forms of scholarships and grants that do not need to be repaid.
I know I can’t afford a private college on my own so should I just apply at state colleges?
Apply at the colleges you most want to attend and think you can get accepted at. If a college accepts you, they will do what they can to make it possible for you to attend. Private colleges have more resources to draw on and are more likely to be able to offer you additional financial support to make attending their college a reality.
I’m worried about getting myself in trouble with a student loan. How much can I take out and how soon do I have to repay it?
To see that you don't have too much debt after graduation, most colleges will limit the amount you can borrow so that you can repay it without strain. In most cases, you will have 10 years to repay the loans and you don't start the repayment until a couple of months after you graduate.
Where can I get the FAFSA form?
The FAFSA is available online here. You can also download the FAFSA or call the federal processing center at 1-800-4-FED-AID to request a paper FAFSA.