How Can Veterans Take Advantage of the GI Bill When Attending College? Reply

As more veterans return home from active duty and decide what to do next, attending college is a popular option. By using their military skills, they can often combine those unique skills with college to put themselves on an exciting career path. Since they have GI Bill benefits, they have a variety of options ahead of them. To learn how veterans can take advantage of the GI Bill while attending college, here are some important points to keep in mind.

The GI Bill is Not Federal Financial Aid

While virtually all students rely on financial aid to attend college, the GI Bill is not viewed as traditional federal financial aid. Because of this, veterans must apply for student loans or sign promissory notes to the school, then pay them with their GI Bill benefits. This is especially important for those pursuing an online master’s in special education in any school across the nation, since they will need to attend school for a longer period of time while still maintaining a personal and professional life.

The GI Bill Can Be Started and Stopped as Needed

If you need to pursue your education part-time, GI Bill benefits can be started and stopped as needed. By doing so, many veterans first complete an associate’s degree, take some time off, then complete a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. This will allow veterans the time needed to learn how military strategies can work in the business world, develop a formal resume, and understand how to best market their skills.

You Have 10-15 Years to Use Your Benefits

Whether you want to be a full-time student or take only one class at a time, you can do so through the GI Bill, since you’ll have as many as 15 years to use your benefits. With this amount of time, veterans can ease back into civilian and college life without the pressure of having to quickly complete their education.

The GI Bill Pays Based on the Credits You Take

By paying based on the number of credits you take, the GI Bill can provide up to $1000 per year for books and supplies, and can offer a monthly housing allowance while paying full tuition to the school.

No matter how you choose to use your GI Bill benefits, the good news is that if used wisely, you can find yourself transitioning from a great military career into an equally satisfying civilian career.


Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

How to Choose the Right Financial Aid for College Reply

College may be key to a successful career, but it must be paid for prior to reaping any financial rewards. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to help you cover your expenses, several of which are detailed below.

College Grants

Largely determined based on financial need, grants for college are typically offered by government entities and financial institutions. Grants are an ideal option for those who desire an interest-free solution but do not qualify for most merit-based scholarships. The downside, however, is that they are highly competitive. The Sallie Mae report How America Pays for College found that 66 percent of those attending college used grant or scholarship money to cover necessary expenses in 2014.

Scholarships

Regardless of your current financial situation, you can land a great scholarship if you impress grantors enough. Given primarily based on the merit of the applicant, scholarships may be awarded to those who have demonstrated academic excellence, athletic distinction, or some other quality that colleges, non-profit organizations, or businesses find enticing. Like grants, scholarships are very competitive, although smaller scholarships are sometimes easier to score.

Federal Student Loans

Not everybody qualifies for grants or scholarships, but that doesn’t make paying for college impossible. Federal loans are an excellent option, as they boast low interest rates and are occasionally forgiven for those occupying public service positions. Other students are able to defer payments or pursue flexible repayment plans. Federal student loans are quite common today; experts at the Institute for College Access & Success report that 68 percent of students graduate with debt in 2015.

Private Student Loans

If your federal student loans don’t cover the full cost of college, private college loans may be a viable alternative. Unlike federal loans, these are granted based on the student or cosigner’s credit score. Another major difference between federal and private loans: students with private loans are often asked to start making payments while still enrolled.

Many students pursue a combination of these financial aid options. No solution is ideal for everybody; a lot depends on income, academic achievements and/or credit score. Most students enjoy access to a range of resources, so a quality college education should be well within reach. The below financial aid breakdown guide from Carrington College can help you further determine which options apply to you:


Infographic provided by Carrington College.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out Reply

unique-2032274_960_720When applying for scholarships, one of the things that you’re likely to be asked to do is to write your college application essay. This is uniform for all the people looking for scholarships and in order to be picked, you have to make yours stand out from the rest. For you to come off as unique, you need to strike the judges as memorable and effective. This may seem like quite a lot of pressure, but worry not. We have come up with five tips that you can follow when you write your college application essay. Follow them to the letter, and you will edge closer to impressing the members of the scholarship committee.

  1. Show Them, Do Not Just Tell

When most people write essays, they hardly pay attention to painting pictures with words. For scholarship essays, doing away with this is a very serious mistake that will leave one mile behind. The reason this has so much gravity is that the mental pictures that a writer paints are a vital tool in capturing the attention of readers. No one on the planet, including judges of the scholarship committee, enjoys reading essays that are dry and have nothing but statements and facts. To achieve this alluring aura in your essay, pay attention to narratives, pacing, and imagery among many other things.

It’s an already proven fact that people like reading texts that are laced with a significant amount of depth and emotion. Expressions, stories, and words that open you up to them in a way that they can gaze into your soul is what can set the difference between your essay and millions of others. One of the best tips we can offer you to get this spot on is to give everything a personal touch. In the place of telling judges about how you overcame adversity, you should show it to them in form of a story. Find a situation or better still, a scene that relates to your story and gives it to them at full throttle. Be sure to appeal to their senses so that they can be in your shoes. When experiencing what you did and feeling what you felt, they are less likely not to pick you ahead of others. A word of caution, however, you should always stay right on the topic you have been given and try as much as you can to never stray far from your point.

  1. Get to The Point

pexels-photo-259009All good essays have some similar characteristics, meaningful and clear points being one of them. For example, after you’ve written and read your essay, ask yourself this question: “So what?” You’re supposed to answer yourself at full length about what you learned and all the things that your writing put across. It’s an additional plus for you if your essay did elicit some emotions.

On the other hand, if the emotions it kindled did not drive the reader to a specific conclusion or realization, it will be of little use to you. For instance, if the master plan of your scholarship essay entails proving that you are worthy of the money because you have a certain trait, you have no other option but to make this the center point of your essay. If the essay you’re writing has a question prompting it, it goes without saying that you must answer it and also remove all doubts as to why your answer holds some significance.

The final tip we will give to you about getting to the point is to avoid writing phrases that indicate that you’re about to make your point. A good example of such phrases includes stating “in conclusion.” The reason behind us emphasizing on this is that if you have written effectively, your essay will itself lead the reader to the point that you are trying to drive home. This, in turn, counters the essence of announcing the place where you put your main point across.

  1. Always Come Out Swinging

For this particular topic, we would like to challenge you to ask any avid book reader what makes them know that a book has the potential to be a good read. We could challenge you further by telling you that we already know the answer they more likely than not will give you. Good books are defined by how brilliant they are at captivating the reader with the first few pages!

You could also go right ahead and imagine that you have to choose only one book among hundreds of thousands. Being perfectly honest to yourself, wouldn’t you settle for the book that grabbed your attention in an instance? Likewise, the scholarship judges are in a similar situation shortlisting just a few among millions of essays. The same way the mind-blowing start to that one book made you choose it over all other books, an essay with a great start will get priority over the others.

Bearing this in mind, you should strive to do things differently from others in your approach to writing an essay. For instance, instead of diving straight to your place of residence and where you were born, you should make things more interesting. You could start by skipping to the interesting bit of your story, then afterward finding a way to explain your origin and introducing yourself in other parts of the essay. This will give you almost a fool proof way of standing out from the rest of the applicants by leaving the judges in need for more of what you have to offer.

In a nutshell, the whole idea behind all this is that after reading the first paragraph, they should be in awe of what they have just taken in. Once this is done, you have an easier task ahead because you will only be required to back up the creativity and energy you have started with in the remaining part of the essay. Do all this and make sure that your essay is informative and interesting, and it will definitely be memorable.

  1. Follow All the Guidelines

More likely than not, you will not have met with your judges when you write this essay. It is, therefore, difficult to know what they prefer and what criteria they use to single out good applicants from the rest. One thing that could help you get a whiff of what they expect is the guidelines that they provide for the essay. The guidelines are your only avenue of getting to know your audience, so you should read them inside and out in order to know intimately the instructions that are emphasized on.

Go ahead and look at what they mention first. If it is about length, be sure not to write even a letter less or more than the indicated number. Take note of the things they put in bold and also any recommendations they give and see to it that what they require has been taken care of in your essay. You should also take interest in reading deeper into the given directions and modify your tone of writing accordingly.

The other important reason as to why you must know the instructions by heart is to prevent yourself from veering off the right direction. It’s no surprise that a lot of times, the essays are hardly read once the judges notice that the instructions haven’t been adhered to. If by any chance you are thinking about bending some or even one of the rules, don’t. If you want to stand out and also have the best of chances to succeed, make sure you aren’t disqualified because of a technical error.

  1. Take the Road That’s Less Traveled

You will find that most of the essay queries have a feel of having relatively obvious answers. Once you have read a question and find that the answer has come to you too quickly, it is wise to remember that it has occurred easily to others too. To curb this, set aside the first ideas that come to you. If the essay feels like an easy one to you then choose a different direction.light-bulbs-1125016_960_720

Dare to do something that’s different or even strange as compared to others. You can even decide to go with the opposite of the first reaction you had regarding the topic. This might have a challenging ring to it, but it also has a brighter side to its every aspect. This is that the judges will be bound to consider you before the others because your essay comes off as more interesting compared to the rest that just has basic answers.

As mentioned earlier, the first thought that comes to you when thinking of what to write may also occur to all the other students required to write the same essay. If your plan is to stand out, then you’ll have to dig deeper and think of an alternative, usually more challenging, ways to do the essay. The easy route is full of travelers but the road less traveled is like that because it presents many obstacles and challenges.

Conclusion

All that having been said, we would like to let you know that it is indeed possible to stand out once you follow the above-stated tips. These are the best tips you will get on how to write your college application essay. Finally, we would like to know how effective you have found this article. Leave us a comment.


Lori Wade is a freelance content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

 

Your Scholarship Application Checklist Reply

By: Francine Fluetsch

When it comes to finances, applying to college can be stressful for college students. Loans can deter students from shooting for schools that are a bit out of their price range, as they hope to avoid future student debt.

However, there is a free way to finance your college years: apply for scholarships. There are hundreds of them out there, and you are bound to find a few that you could qualify for — it will just take some digging.

Filling out scholarship applications on top of college applications sounds like a drag, and is definitely a lot of work, but if you can push through, it will be worth it when you land that scholarship that will send you to your dream school. Keep in mind that these applications and the stress that comes with them will only last a short few months, but your college education will give you the future you deserve for years and years to come.

Since you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to researching scholarships that fit you, this article will serve to ease the rest of the scholarship application process by giving you a general checklist to follow as you are about to apply to scholarships and also to reference when in the middle of the process.

  1. Letter of recommendation

Not every scholarship application is going to require a letter of recommendation, but it is always better to be over prepared than to not bother getting a letter of recommendation and then realizing you need one when it’s too late to request one.

Try to obtain letters from two trusted people, just to be safe. Ask a teacher who knows you and your achievements well, a supervisor at a job or volunteer position, a coach, or someone in the professional world whom you know quite well (but don’t use family members with your same last name). Supply the person or two that you ask with a “brag sheet” where you list all of your accomplishments and why you are a fit for the said scholarship you are applying to.

This step is the first one for a reason: do it in advance! You can’t go up to your teacher and say, “Would you mind writing me a letter of rec? I need it for an application that is due tomorrow.” Chances are, they will not fulfill your last minute request, and you will be the one who suffers for it.

Give your person at least a month to write your letter, so they have time to think about what to say, and you have time to make sure that they finish before you start stressing about the deadline.

  1. Transcripts

Scholarships are usually awarded to those who excel in school, meaning you’ll have to supply your transcript to prove you are worthy of the reward. However, you can’t just log on to your high school’s website and print out the transcript listed there — you need an official copy. To get your official transcript, you have to go through the Registrar’s office or talk to your counselor.

With this, just like the first step, make sure to give yourself plenty of time, since these orders don’t get filled nearly as quickly as they should. I remember when I was applying to colleges and my request for my transcripts somehow got lost, and luckily I checked back with enough time or I might have lost my spot at UC Santa Cruz. Don’t let a timing issue be the reason you don’t get a scholarship; make sure to plan ahead and order more transcripts than you need.

  1. Cover letter

Scholarship committees want to know about you and why you are a good fit for them, so your cover letter is your chance to make yourself stand out and to highlight all of your attributes for why you deserve their money. Make sure you are not simply creating one cover letter and using it to apply for different scholarships. A lot of the time, they have specific things they want to see, so you need to go through and personalize each cover letter to the scholarship you are applying for.

Double check you are sending each letter to the right place to avoid an embarrassing mix-up! Also, make sure to have another pair of eyes look at your cover letter before you send it, so you can avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes that you didn’t catch during your proofreading round.

  1. Essay

Scholarship applications include many steps but organizations aren’t just going to give their money out to any random person. Half of the process is seeing if you were diligent and determined enough to give it your all through the application steps, so keep your eye on the prize and bust that essay out!

Like the cover letter, you want to make sure you personalize your essay towards the scholarship you are applying for. The scholarship essay evaluators have seen it all and will know if you are giving them a generic essay that you sent to other scholarships as well.

Get your essay done early so you can show it to one of your teachers and ask for some notes on it. This seems like a daunting task, but your teachers want you to do well and have been at this for a while, so they might know what necessary tweaks you should make to help you get that scholarship.

  1. Photo

Some applications will ask you to include a small photo of yourself, and while it might seem silly to mention it, this does not mean that you can send a selfie to them. Make sure to send a professional picture (like your senior yearbook photo) that shows your college-ready side. You should try to make an impression and stand out, not have them laugh at your lack of seriousness when they receive an Instagram photo of you.

This checklist should get you through the bulk of any scholarship application, but remember to read all instructions carefully and include everything and anything that they require. Good luck scoring that money!


Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, scholarships, tutors near campus, jobs for college students, and more.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

3 Creative Way to Earn a Side Income to Pay College Tuition Reply

According to data fromBeautiful waitress with a tray The Institute of College Access and Success, a whopping 70 percent of students graduate with student loans. In fact, research shows that the average 2016 college graduate has about $37,172 in student debts.

What’s more shocking, however, is the fact that tuition and college fees keep rising sharply every year. In fact, an analysis of student fees from 1995 to 2015 found that the average tuition and fees at private National Universities has increased by 179 percent, the average tuition and fees at out-of-state public universities has risen by 226 percent and the average tuition and fees at in-state public National Universities has increased by a massive 296 percent — all in 20 years. If available research is anything to go by, it will take most students at least 21 years pay off their student loan debts.

How do you lessen your student loan debt burden and earn an income on the side? The following six ways will allow you to earn income on the side to pay your college tuition:

  1. Online Jury Duty: The law field is getting increasingly interesting, with a lot of different cases and rulings coming out with unexpected angles. In an attempt to be more prepared, trial attorneys have realized that they need to go beyond theory and get some practice before they get in front of a real judge — and they are leveraging the Internet for this: by working with online juries.

By working as an online jury, you will have the opportunity to review real cases before they get to the court; the aim of the attorneys is to see if their case can stand, and you can often earn up to $60 per case. This quickly adds up towards your tuition. You can find countless companies that pay online juries by doing an online search.

  1. Start an Online Business: You can also earn side income to pay for your tuition by starting an online business. The advantage to starting an online business is that it can be done at the comfort of your home, on your computer, and it won’t interfere with your studies. Here are some tips to help you if you decide to start an online business:
  • Partner to promote other people’s products: Save yourself the stress of having to create a product. Simply find a product that is selling well, and promote it as an affiliate. You get a commission for every sale, and this quickly adds up.
  • Start your own blog: Blogging can be one of the most effective things you will do as a college student. Not only does it help your ability to write and express yourself, it can also be a good source of income. A blog will also be useful for you after college: there are several examples of people who got their dream jobs due to their blogs.
  • Create and sell your product: This has the most potential, and if done right you can earn you enough to pay off your tuition within a year or two. However, it takes a lot of work — especially initially. It also involves several complexities, such as doing market research, creating an email list, looking for affiliate partners, etc.
  1. Become a Freelancer or Consultant: Research estimates that 40 percent of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020.

The surge in the number of freelancers, consultants and contract workers is mainly due to the Internet — more and more people can work remotely and still be as efficient. For you, as a college student, taking advantage of this could be the key to paying off your tuition. Some tips:

  • Establish the skills you can offer to potential clients: this could be design, writing, programming or artistic skills. You can work as a freelancer or consultant irrespective of the skills you have.
  • Take advantage of top freelance sites like Upwork to find clients that are looking for freelancers.
  • To give yourself an edge, take things to the next level by compiling a list of potential clients and reaching out to them directly.

John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

 

The Benefits of Federal Work Study Program Reply

Students studying on the grass of a university quad.

Students studying on the grass of a university quad.

If you have begun looking into colleges, then you have likely discovered that your education is going to be expensive. You’ve probably applied to grants and scholarships and, depending on where you are in the process, you may have completed your FAFSA application as well. When looking at a way to fund your education, it is important to consider any possible avenues that are available. Depending on your and your parent’s financial situation, FAFSA may award a Grant for the Federal Work Study program.

The Federal Work Study program is not offered to all students, just those with the financial need for them. It is also not a program that all schools participate in. If you think you may qualify for the Federal Work Study program and would like to take advantage of it, it’s a good idea to check with the schools you are interested in to see if they offer something.

This program does not directly pay for your education. Instead, it provides an opportunity for you to get a part time job that pays at least minimum wage. You can use that money to pay some of your tuition, or to pay for the other expenses that come with attending college; food, laundry, supplies, housing, etc. When you qualify for the program, you’ll apply to and interview for a position, just like you would with any other job. Some work study jobs are with the school you attending, and you work on campus. Other jobs are elsewhere in the community.

If you are working on campus, often your position will be something like working at the library or bookstore or in the cafeteria. Typically, if you work off campus, your position will be something that provides some sort of public service, or that is related in some way to your field of study. The FAFSA Grant funds part of your pay, and your employer the other part. This is an incentive for an employer to hire students since the Federal Work Study Program pays a portion of the wages. If you are awarded the Work Study Grant, it is important that you start looking or a position. The Grant does not guarantee you a position, only that they will subsidize the wage.

There are other benefits to the Federal Work Study program than just money for college. You gain valuable work experience and begin to learn how to budget your time. You’ll have some work experience to put on your resume when you get out of college. If your work study job was related to your field of study, then perhaps you will have an advantage over other students, when applying for positions after college. You could enter your new career with a college degree, and a few years of experience in the field. If you qualify for the Federal Work Study program, it is definitely worth consideration. It gives you some cash you will need for college and will help prepare you for your future career.

Report all of your Financial Aid Reply

Your overall financial aid package can come from many sources. You completed the FAFSA application and the results of that application were submitted to your school. Using that, you could be awarded a variety of Federal grants, scholarships, and loans. Your school may have internal grant and scholarship opportunities that are awarded based on a variety of factors, such as your high school grades and you and your parent’s economic situation.

University, Finance, Charity and Relief Work.

College financial aid.

In addition to this, you’ve probably spent many hours applying for grants and scholarships that aren’t attached either to your school or to the FAFSA. Likely this meant writing essays and introduction letters completing many very long applications for several opportunities ranging from as little as five hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars each. These could have been scholarships offered by local community groups such as the Rotary Club or the Masons, as well as state and national groups.

The important thing to remember is that these scholarships are considered part of your overall financial aid package, even though they didn’t come directly from your school or from your Federal financial aid package. Some scholarship and grant programs notify the school of their award, or send the check directly to the school’s financial aid department. Others send or give the checks to you directly and may or may not actually report the award to the school. This is especially true of smaller gifts from local organizations. This is where your responsibility comes in. It is up to you – not the school and not the organizations giving you money – to make sure all sources of financial aid are reported to your school. Even the small $500 grant checks that you received are part of your financial aid and are considered by the school when awarding other Grants and scholarship.

There is a temptation to refrain from reporting some of the smaller awards, especially when it seems very unlikely that your school will never find out about them. Can reporting your outside financial aid reduce the financial aid package your school offers? Yes it can. However, it is considered fraudulent to withhold information regarding your outside financial aid offers and it could result in a revocation of your entire financial aid package should the school find out that information was withheld. Even more severe, you could find that your acceptance into the college is also revoked if the school feels you have been dishonest with them.

The better, and more honest, route to take would be to report everything you have received to your financial aid department. Then you can negotiate with them, should you find that your overall package was reduced. Don’t put your college career at risk to save a few bucks.

Applying for Scholarships: Start Early and Apply Often Reply

Students studyingLocal scholarships are scholarships that various organizations in your community offer students who reside in particular place to help pay for college. Often these scholarships are offered through municipalities or prominent figures that wanted to give back to their home communities. Plus, since these are largely given out based on geographic location, it can often be easier to be awarded money for school because of the smaller applicant pool.

Even if you live in a small community, there are often plenty of scholarships available, you just might have to do more work to find them. So, before you start your junior year, you should already be asking your teachers, mentors, employers, parents, and other people in your community that might know about local scholarships that might be available. You might be surprised to find out how much money is available to eager and driven students.

Most scholarship deadlines are in January, so you should be ready by mid-year of your junior year to have scholarships already lined up for after you graduate. This might seem early, but it isn’t. Plan on carving out some time in your schedule in order to find and apply for scholarships. Preparation and due diligence are key here.

Along with asking those who are close to you about available scholarships, check with your guidance office. They will likely have a list of scholarships available. But don’t just stop there as they might not have a full list. Contact state and local agencies, community colleges and universities around your area, as well as searching online for local scholarships in your city. This is a time when picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting with someone in-the-know can greatly pay off in the long run.

Getting Ready for College as a High School Senior Reply

Student Loan

Student loans and scholarship money.

It’s crunch time for high school seniors preparing for college. For many, the end of the prior school year and the summer before senior year was spent applying for scholarships and grants  and spent September applying to colleges.. Most students will have a decision from the colleges they have applied to by April, but there are things that need to be done before then.

Finishing up scholarship applications:

High school seniors should be finishing up the application process for most of their scholarship requests. It is important to review the scholarship application deadlines as well as ensure that all requested information for each scholarship is completed correctly. Many scholarships are very competitive and incomplete or incorrectly completed applications are often not considered. Others may require essays or letters of recommendation or transcripts. It is important to take the time with each scholarship that has not already been submitted to ensure that all requirements have been accurately completed.

Even though college starts in the fall, it is not too late to continue to look for other scholarship opportunities. This may be a good time to check with local social and philanthropic organisations in within the community for further opportunities. College expenses add up quickly and any extra fund sources, even smaller scholarships, are worth the time to investigate.

Two misconceptions regarding completing the FAFSA:

It is time to complete the FAFSA application, if it has not been completed already. Some students and parents think that they must wait until after 2016 income taxes are completed. Others think that they cannot apply for financial aid until they have been accepted by a college. Neither of these are true. FAFSA applications can be completed prior to income tax returns, and can be amended once the returns are completed. If a student has applied for more than one college, information on all colleges can be included in the FAS application.

With the FAFSA application, timing is everything. Many of the grants and financial aid options offered by the FAFSA are offered on a first come, first served basis. The sooner the application is completed, the more opportunities for financial aid will be available.

Most applications to college are decided in March or April. If a student has applied for Early Decision or Early Action, then likely he or she has already received the decision. It is important to speak with admissions counselors and understand the complete admissions process. Regardless of the admissions process for the individual college, having the FAFSA completed will simplify the process.

Learn more about what seniors in high school should be doing for college applications with Peterson’s.

Fill Out Your FAFSA Early to Help You Estimate Your EFC Reply

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College money

Navigating the financial aid process can be confusing and difficult, especially when trying to calculate your estimated family contribution (EFC) on your FAFSA application. Your EFC is a number that determines your eligibility to receive federal student financial aid. This number is calculated by a formula that is established by federal law, and includes your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (unemployment, Social Security, etc.), family size, and other family members who will attend college. Luckily, you don’t have to do this on your own. The US Department of Education makes a lot of great tools to help you estimate the aid you will receive.

First, if you are a high school junior scoping out colleges to attend after you graduate, you should start in January so that you can find out what the cost of attendance (COA) is for each of your prospective colleges. Depending on how much tuition and room and board is going to be, it will help you decide which colleges are worth spending time on.

So, how do you calculate your EFC? After you’ve filled out your FAFSA, this number will be available to you after the FAFSA has been fully processed. Though you are able to fill out your FAFSA between January 1st and June 30th for the same calendar year, you should file the application as soon as they are available so that you don’t miss out on any aid. You will have to fill out the FAFSA every year you attend college, so it is good to get familiar with the process.

However, if you want to estimate your EFC before filling out your FAFSA, there are many free tools online to help you do that. On the Department of Education website, they have a FAFSA4caster that will give you an estimate of your eligibility for need-based and non-need based aid, including federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other grants to help you pay for school.

Find out what your EFC is with a free calculator.