Monday, December 24, 2012

How To Survive and Understand Financial Aid

How To Survive and Understand Financial Aid!

   Look, between you and me and the monitor? College costs money. Buckets and buckets of money for some, or easily managed payments for others. Every school is different and not every school costs the same … but it still costs.

   Are we all still okay? Have we survived the first obstacle in this talk on Financial Aid?  Awesome!
   The biggest thing to understand about financial aid requests is that it takes time, paperwork ( sort-of ), and the patience of a saint to get through the whole process. Sometimes you will need to have access to documents and forms that you, by yourself, do not normally handle depending on your age, mainly IRS forms.

   Here I will detail the steps you’ll need to go through in about as much sense as the process can be translated. It’s not AS hard as deciphering hieroglyphs into swhaili and then into English … but its tricky all the same.

   First – Have all the records of your income that you or your parents have. Be sure to know if you are claimed by your family as a dependent! This is a HUGE deal.  You’ll need to make sure you have the official forms because you will need *very* specific information from these documents when we get to the second step.

   Second – Go to  Here you will make an account, get your 4-digit PIN, and then you’ll register your current financial “status” based on your income/dependency, etc… You’ll be asked a seemingly endless series of questions pertaining to how much money you or your family have made, considerations for differing things, etc… You will be able to “register” that you want this information sent to the school of your choice so it’s understood that step is done after you’ve confirmed your offer of admission with your university.

   Third, see what your college is able to provide you. For UT Tyler the website will be . Here you can find the numerous options you have for finding scholarships.

   Quick! Do you know the difference between a LOAN, and GRANT, and a SCHOLARSHIP? Grants and Scholarships do not have to be paid back so it’s free money ( well, kind of – some Grants/Scholarships have a dependency clause stating that to renew the funds you need to get a certain GPA, for example ) for you to use. Loans a are trickier and they will have to be paid back in time, however you have six months after graduation ( or between your last college class taken ) to start making payments.

   CAUTION: If possible, always be careful with taking out Loans for college needlessly. The temptation to just be given an extra 5-10,000 a year can really help your life out, however if you do not plan for paying this money back ( even in small 150 dollar payments a month )  they can become trouble down the road.

   The last step is to constantly check in with the Financial Aid office(s) for your college, however please be courteous to these hard working people and if they say “It will be a week before we know anything,” give them a week.

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