Financial Aid: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re getting ready to leave high school and start college or you’re an adult learner who wants to finally get that degree, it’s always a good idea to see if you qualify for financial assistance. Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take and things you should know.

  1. Look for scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships from companies, small groups, big groups and endowments. Scholarships can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands and you’d be surprised at the wide variety of people who qualify. Start researching various options so you can begin applying for them and completing any essays or other requirements.
  2. Complete the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) application. This is a great place to start to see if you qualify for any financial assistance. The application is available in January for the upcoming school year. When filling out the FAFSA on www.fafsa.gov, you’ll need to have your tax information ready. You may also need to report the income and tax information of your parents if you don’t meet certain conditions in questions 46-58, so you may need to fill the form out with your parents.
  3. If you’re awarded financial aid after completing the FAFSA, you may be awarded loans and/or grants. Loans must be paid back, but grants do not need to be.
  4. Before accepting any loans, be sure you consider your ability to pay them back after graduation. Remember, too, that unsubsidized loans accrue interest charges while you’re going to school whereas subsidized loans don’t.
  5. Don’t forget to fill out your FAFSA every year. You need to reapply each year, so don’t expect one year’s funding to simply carry over to the next.
  6. Find out if your school has any work-study programs available. This will allow the means to earn money while going to school. You can use this money to pay for classes and books and/or living expenses so you reduce your dependence on loans.

Between grants, work-study and scholarships, you may find you have little to no need for student loans. This will put you on the fast track for financial success once you graduate. Contact Kramer Wealth Managers to find out how we can help you navigate the financial aid process.

*PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION FOR VIDEO* Frame 1:48-2:00 Indicates that parents must fill out their tax and income information if you are claimed as a dependent on their tax return. It should be corrected that parental income and tax information is only needed if you do not meet certain criteria. If you answer YES to any of questions 46-58, you don’t need your parents’ information.