We dream of sending our children to college. When they are babies we dream of the academic/football/diving/debating/fill-in-the-blank scholarships they’ll get. And then it turns out that they hate diving or love football but don’t play at a level to earn a full ride. And with a sigh we look at the cost of education and realize that sending our kids off to work at Starbucks might not be the worst plan after all.
Financial expert and Girlfriend Guru MIATA EDOGA shares information about completing the intimidating FAFSA, the form that unlocks financial aid in all it’s glorious shapes and forms. Take a deep breath, girlfriend, gather your data, and let Miata help you get ready to send the kid off to learn.
If you’re contemplating college in the fall, there’s one document you need to fill out RIGHT NOW: the FAFSA form. This single document is the most important key in cutting the cost of your education dream.
While the federal due date for the FAFSA isn’t until June 30th of each year, individual states and schools often have due dates in early- to mid-February. Begin now so you won’t worry about being late!
Your whole college aid strategy is predicated on knowing a couple important terms: “FAFSA” and “EFC.”
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the government’s financial aid program to apply for the Pell Grant, it also opens up nearly all need-based aid in traditional college programs. Many people make a critical mistake: they don’t fill out the FAFSA because they believe there’s no hope of receiving federal government aid.
Here’s a great way to imagine financial aid programs (although you won’t find financial aid officers explaining the programs in this manner): schools won’t hand over any financial aid until you bleed the state. The state won’t grant financial aid until you bleed the federal government. This is why EVERYONE works through the FAFSA form. It streamlines the process. While it’s true that most are denied a Pell Grant, this form also is used for subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. Unsubsidized loan programs are open to nearly all students. This is also the method to apply for nearly all need-based aid through states and schools.
Key point: Fill out the FAFSA form, even if you think you won’t receive aid.
Expected Family Contribution (or EFC), is the amount the government says you should be expected to pay before aid programs kick in.
Need is based on the difference between the cost of the college and the amount of your EFC.
Cost of school minus EFC = need
Once they’ve determined your need, a school financial aid officer creates an aid package.
Remember that the acronym is eFc (expected FAMILY contribution), not ePc (expected PARENT contribution). Schools examine income and assets of both the student and parents. They’ll also ask about other family members and how many are also attending college.
Schools may not all use the same EFC calculation. There are two. You should ask which your favorite institutions use:
- Federal EFC methodology: This is most widely used and is determined using the FAFSA.
- Institution EFC methodology: This calculation is used by individual schools to determine their own EFC. While they might use traditional FAFSA questions, individual schools may consider additional criteria to determine aid.
Here is your homework, education-seekers!
- Find out important due dates NOW so you don’t miss your chance at financial aid.
- Fill out the form early. Schools don’t have unlimited financial aid and some may administer funds on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Understand the basics of the FAFSA before filling it out to help you calculate ways to better reflect your true EFC, but don’t wait.
- Ask schools what EFC calculation each uses and find out any institutional discrepancies from the national EFC calculation BEFORE applying for financial aid.
MIATA EDOGA is the President and Founder of Abundance Bound, a 10-year old company committed to utilizing humor, inspiration & lots of love to give individuals around the world the necessary tools to thrive financially, while keeping focus on the things they treasure most. Visit the Abundance Bound Facebook Page for your free copy of Financial Success for the Creative Soul!
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