While being selected for the college that you’ve always dreamed of is an achievement worth all the happiness, it usually drains away thinking of the hectic procedure to be followed to receive financial aid. However, it is not as difficult as one thinks it would be when handled one step at a time.
To start off the process, the first and the most basic thing to do would be to fill the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) irrespective of your thoughts on qualification for the aid. FAFSA is taken into consideration to qualify you for grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans. It is more important to fill it, and that too early as some schools distribute their funds on a first come, first serve basis.
From the information you provide in your FAFSA, a summarized report called the student aid report (SAR) would be sent to you by the department of education. This report will calculate an estimate of the amount that can be contributed by you and your family (EFC) towards the college fee, which when found to be less than the college’s cost of attendance will likely make you eligible for receiving the aid.
A copy of SAR will be sent to each school listed on your FAFSA, which will prepare a package of financial aid to suit your needs. This information of financial aid and loans allocated to you and eligible for you will be presented to you by each of the school as your award letter which can be compared to make further decisions on which school would help you better financially.
Always keep the grants and scholarships available from various sources in mind as they are capable of making a significant difference. You are usually automatically considered for grants by your schools at the time of admission.
After putting together all the information of the amount you’d be receiving from various sources, if you still fall short, it would be a good idea to make a comparison of the available federal and private loans.