Financial aid is a package of money awarded to a student in the form of gift aid (scholarships/grants), government loans, and campus jobs, after taking into account the family’s financial circumstances.
Parents or high-school counselors are often cited next.
There’s a lot more detail and links to great resources in other sections of WCSU Your Money: “Scholarships and Other Aid;” “Loans of Many Types;” “Savings Plans;” and “Military Aid.” See also financial aid calculators in “Calculators & Tools”.
Financial Aid Stats:
- 67% of aid comes from the federal government.
- More than 90% of the $128 billion dispersed each year is based on financial need.
- Still, 31% of America’s “middle income” families are fully covered by financial aid and 52% get some grants — don’t assume your middle class family is somehow ineligible for need-based aid!
- 87% of WCSU freshmen got need-based aid ($8,199 on average), leaving $5,408 as the net cost after financial aid.
Source: Peterson’s “How to Get Money for College,” for 2012-13, citing in part, a Dept. of Education study on middle-income families, defined as families with $35k-$70k in annual income.
Be careful with your application:
- Errors can cost you dearly. Applying online minimizes errors and speeds decisions, experts say.
- Parent/s unemployed? If over age 24 you may be considered “independent” and eligible for more aid than someone “dependent” on his or her parent/s.
- Know the deadlines. Financial aid forms for the 2013-2014 school year will likely be due no later than March 15, 2013 and the WCSU Financial Aid Office recommends you file by March 1, 2013.
- Don’t let anyone charge you for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- You may appeal if the expected family contribution (EFC) seems too high.
Have you ever frittered away your financial aid to find yourself broke before term ends? Listen to others who did in a story from PRI’s public radio show, Marketplace.
- Sites: FinAid, a one-stop source; College.gov, a Dept. of Education venture; The College Board, which has a FinancialAidEasyPlanner; Student Finance Domain explores the options of international students.
- Peterson’s “How to Get Money for College,” for 2012-13, a telephone-directory sized book on 2,400 colleges, which simply explains financial aid.
- “The College Solution,” by Lynn O’Shaughnessy (May, 2012), with a companion paid workbook to walk students through the basis of financial aid.
- Just published (Aug. 2012): “College Happens — A Practical Handbook for Parents & Students,” by Connecticut-based Mitchell D. Weiss