Not only is your quest for financial aid a job, it’s one that you’ll have for at least four years. Applying for financial aid is a yearly
process. If you’re serious about finding money for college, you’ll be completing forms, writing essays, surfing the Internet looking for scholarships, and talking to guidance counselors and other experts
right up until the year you graduate from college.A heads-up about Early Decision. If you choose this route, you’ll know whether you’ve been accepted to the school of your choice by early winter, but you won’t know what your financial aid award is until spring. This means you’ll have to accept or reject your Early Decision offer without knowing anything about your financial aid package. If your award is not enough and you can’t come up with the balance, you may have to attend
Complete the financial aid forms and calculate your eligibility before you apply to colleges for admission, even if you don’t think you’re eligible for financial aid. Applying early improves your chance of receiving the best financial aid package you can. If you apply late and the college has already committed its available financial aid funds for the year, they may not be able to do anything for you until the following year.
Use the calculator at the College Board’s website (www.collegeboard.com) to calculate what your EFC (expected family contribution) will be. This site also includes numerous other free calculator tools, so take advantage of them. If you cannot find scholarships that you need, look for ones that are targets your national background, age, passion, or local area.