FINANCIAL AID FOR COLLEGE WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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“WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW”

DEFINITION OF FINANCIAL AID

FINANCIAL AID: Colleges generally define financial aid as “need-based aid”, meaning financial assistance for which a student’s family must submit a FAFSA and sometimes a CSS PROFILE to determine if he or she qualifies for need-based aid. Financial Aid rarely ever refers to scholarships. There is another term for scholarships.

MERIT AID/ MERIT-BASED AID/ SCHOLARSHIPS: These terms are almost interchangeable. Merit Aid refers strictly to merit awards or merit scholarships that are awarded to students based solely on their academic/extracurricular achievements. Merit aid does not factor in family income or a family’s determined financial need for college.

• Merit scholarships can be funded solely by a college, therefore, making it a scholarship that is strictly for applicants applying to that specific school and for use only at that specific school. • Outside scholarships or public merit scholarships exist as well. Most colleges refer to them

colloquially as “outside scholarships” or sometimes “portable scholarships.” Outside

scholarships are merit awards NOT funded by a college, but rather - a corporation, church, foundation, families, doctors, individuals, small companies, organizations, and government offices.

Example - Your dad’s company offers $2,000-a-year scholarships to the children of employees. Such a scholarship would be identified as an “outside scholarship.” A student with an outside scholarship can “take” that scholarship with them to almost any college they choose to attend. These scholarships can be found on the internet or in public scholarship guidebooks.

NEED-BASED AID: Need-Based Aid is basically the same thing as financial aid in the minds of most college financial aid officers. Need-based aid is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT issue facing college today. Need-based aid provides financial assistance to families who qualify for NEED-BASED AID as determined by the federal government and the colleges that the student has applied to for admission. In order to be considered for need-based aid, a student must fill out a FAFSA form. The FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” The forms can be completed online at: www.fafsa.ed.gov starting January 1st, 2011. Hard copies of the forms can also be picked up in the college counseling office in January 1st, 2011. Truthfully, it is much easier to do it online and the form is processed faster. The FAFSA is for receiving federal aid from the U.S. Government. All state or public colleges accept the FAFSA. The FAFSA mainly looks at family income.

• Federal aid is typically made up of Pell grants (for those who meet Pell eligibility), government-provided Perkins Loans, and hopefully, some grant money from the state.

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INSTITUTIONAL AID: Institutional financial aid is also need-based aid that only private colleges provide for financial assistance. The big difference between institutional aid and federal aid is the source. Federal aid is money from the U.S. government, and the criteria for qualifying for federal aid are different and more strictly defined. Institutional aid is money from the funds of a private college. The criteria for qualifying for institutional aid are set BY THE PRIVATE COLLEGE with a few federal guidelines in place – to make sure colleges are not doing anything illegal with their aid for students.

• A majority of private colleges will ask a student to complete an additional form for institutional aid: the CSS PROFILE. The CSS PROFILE is slightly similar to the FAFSA, but the questions are more detailed and cover more than just income. In addition to family income, the PROFILE factors in investments, assets, extenuating circumstances affecting family income, trusts, etc. Most private colleges require students to fill out both the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE need-based aid consideration. The colleges then combine the results of both forms to determine your financial aid package.

• Institutional aid is great! It is generally made up significantly of grant money (free money from the college’s funds) with some loans and work study.

FORMS FOR FINANCIAL AID

• FAFSA - FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID. WWW.FAFSA.ED.GOV

• CSS PROFILE – APPLICATION FOR FINANCIAL AID FROM PRIVATE

COLLEGES. HTTPS://PROFILEONLINE.COLLEGEBOARD.COM. (Only for private colleges that require it). You must pay a $25 app. fee for the CSS PROFILE. The first submission of your PROFILE application to a college is included in the $25 cost. But, the second or third or fourth submission to a college does cost $16 each. There are application fee waiver forms for students from low income families. The waiver also includes up to 6 free PROFILE submissions.

*PREFERRED DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID: FEBRUARY 1ST, 2011 *Westminster highly recommends that you complete the CSS PROFILE earlier. The 2010-2011 CSS PROFILE is available in September.

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES FOR FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION

• www.finaid.org: for general financial aid information that includes info on how to apply for federal aid. Detailed info that is written in an accessible and helpful manner.

• www.finaid.org/calculators : this webpage is part of the finaid.org website. This page is very helpful in providing a free financial aid package calculator. With the

calculator, you can find out if you would qualify for aid. And if so, it gives you a rough estimate for federal aid.

• www.fafsa.ed.gov: the official government website for the FAFSA form. You can apply online here. There is also helpful information about how federal aid is determined. • https://profileonline.collegeboard.com: the official College Board website for the CSS

PROFILE. The page also has links to helpful sections on how to apply for financial aid and how to begin searching for outside scholarships. The helpline telephone number for the CSS PROFILE is: (305)829-9793. The phone line is open from 9am to 6pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday only. You can also EMAIL the PROFILE helpdesk. The EMAIL address is: help@cssprofile.org.

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www.fafsa.com is BAD!! You NEVER have to pay an application fee for using the FAFSA. FAFSA.COM is NOT the official website and it charges you to fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is free! Remember, FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” • Any website or company that charges you money to apply for the FAFSA is BAD. Don’t do

it. You can get free help from the colleges you apply to by speaking with a financial aid officer.

• Do not pay for professional services to help you fill out the FAFSA or the CSS PROFILE. These forms are made easy as possible for a family to fill out the forms on their own.

FINANCIAL AID WORDS YOU WILL HEAR

• EFC: It stands for “estimated family contribution.” Simply put, the EFC is a number that tells you what how much your family will have to pay out of its own pocket for college in the first year. The FAFSA or CSS PROFILE is where you may see references to EFC.

• FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE: Your financial aid package is the amount of need-based aid you will receive from a college. If you were awarded a merit scholarship, the

scholarship will be identified in your total financial aid package.

• GRANTS: A grant is “free” need-based financial assistance that is provided in a financial aid package for those who qualify for grant money. Basically, it is money that you do not pay back to the government or the college. A grant is free money for you and is applied to your financial aid package.

FINANCIAL AID TERMS or PHRASES YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND

• NEED BLIND: Any college that declares that it is “need-blind” is stating that your high financial need or your ability to pay tuition in full is never a factor in admissions

decisions – ever. It is a good thing.

• NEED AWARE: This term can have a slightly different meaning, depending on the college, but the term basically means that the college is probably need-blind for the most part(approx. 75% of the time),but sometimes, they do make some decisions partially based on low financial aid need or your high financial aid need. If your app is on the edge of admit or waitlist in committee, the fact that you can pay full tuition may help nudge you to an “admit”, but not in every case. Same thing – if you have high financial need; it may not or it may nudge your app to a waitlist.

• NEED SENSITIVE: For some colleges, “need-aware” and “need-sensitive may mean the same thing. Yet, generally, most colleges with “need-sensitive” policies are telling you that your high financial need or low financial need plays a factor in your admission decision. “Need-Sensitive” schools probably look at the financial need of students in a majority of committee cases(at least 55% of the time). “Need-sensitive” colleges really like parents who can pay the full cost of college – even for some kids with weaker academic records.

• MEET 100% OF DEMONSTRATED NEED: This is good. A college that meets 100% of demonstrated-need is saying that any financial aid package from that school meets the entire need of the student – period. There are no gaps in whatever has been determined to be your financial aid package. “100% demonstrated need” is the exact opposite of a college giving you a financial aid package that covers 80% of your need, but not all of it. • If you find a college that is both need-blind and meets 100% of demonstrated need,

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MYTHBUSTERS ABOUT FINANCIAL AID

• I CAN BARGAIN FOR A BETTER AID PACKAGE OR PIT ONE COLLEGE AGAINST ANOTHER FOR A BETTER AID PACKAGE

Answer: It is always good to call the financial aid office of a college to see if there is more the college can do to improve the financial aid package, but it MAY OR MAY NOT WORK. All colleges have to follow federal guidelines, so there are limits to what colleges can do. Financial aid officers legally work within the parameters set by the federal government and their college. But if you call with a legitimate reason (preferably a quantifiable one) for seeking a reasonable increase in your financial aid package – and YOU ARE NICE to the financial aid officer, there may be some “wiggle-room” for the officer to seek a positive adjustment to your aid-package. • IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE POLITE TO THE FINANCIAL AID

OFFICERS BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

Answer: You are making a sad mistake if you think that “leaning hard” on a financial officer, angrily complaining about your aid-package or asking to speak with their

supervisor – and yelling at the supervisor will help you get a better financial aid package. IT DOES NOT WORK AND IT NEVER DOES WORK in your favor now or later. The financial aid officer has no personal knowledge of your son or daughter’s academic record or achievements. They just handle the money. But financial aid officers are HUMAN. Financial aid officers tend to be positively moved by KIND PARENTS who are FRIENDLY and PATIENT. Simply put – having a financial aid officer “on your side” is like having an advocate for your child in the financial aid office. How do you get a financial aid officer on your side? Be very nice to them. Even if you don’t exactly get what you want, the officer may get you something close to perfect. And next year, they’ll remember your kindness and do more.

• I WILL GET LESS GRANT MONEY IF I HAVE OUTSIDE SCHOLARSHIPS. Answer: No. Not necessarily. Colleges want to help you save money, especially if you are bringing in outside scholarships to your financial aid package. If you have an outside scholarship, the first thing colleges take away from your fin-aid package are loans. If your outside scholarship can cover all your loans and a little more, they will then take out your work-study. If the scholarship is very big, they will only take a small portion of grant money for you, but at that point – it doesn’t matter. You probably have everything covered between the college and the scholarship.

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TO APPLY FOR THE JEFFERSON AND(OR) MOREHEAD

• JEFFERSON SCHOLARSHIP: UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

• MOREHEAD SCHOLARSHIP: UNIV OF NORTH CAROLINA-CHAPEL HILL These two scholarships require a student to be nominated by his or her high school to apply for the scholarship. You cannot apply for their nomination scholarships on your own because the schools won’t let you.

Mr. Onwuachi will send an email about these two scholarships and ASK those who are SERIOUSLY INTERESTED in UVA or UNC-Chapel Hill and interested in filling out any of these scholarship applications to email him with your full name and cell phone number. These scholarships require considerable work to fill out and complete, so this is not for the “faint of heart.”

There are nomination scholarships from other colleges that Mr. Onwuachi will notify everyone about in the coming weeks by email, including nomination scholarships for Emory, Washington University, etc.

There will be emails about other scholarships that do not require a nomination and can be filled out on your own.

*IMPORTANT!!!

Be aware of special admissions application deadlines for scholarship consideration.

Some colleges require that you submit your admission application earlier than the

normal deadline in ORDER FOR YOU TO BE CONSIDERED FOR

SCHOLARSHIP CONSIDERATION. CHECK YOUR COLLEGE WEBSITES

THAT SPECIFY EARLIER DEADLINES FOR SCHOLARSHIP

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