Friday, February 8, 2008

Don't be Discouraged: Financial Aid can only Help

Financial aid can be a time-consuming and complicated process, but try to not get discouraged. There are a lot of forms, essays, interviews, and research involved, but try to keep focused on what the real goal is. A college education is more than a piece of paper: Its a chance to meet new people, experience new things, and take your knowledge to the next level. College graduates will typically make a lot more money than those who don't get a degree, and all the extra opportunities you'll be able to afford in your lifetime will all just be residual benefits of your college diploma.

Even if you're working hard and keeping your grades up, money issues can get in the way of this goal and the financial benefits of your education.

FAFSA is like the entry point for the financial aid process, and many consider it the most frustrating, as well. Don't let the hype get you worried: filing a FAFSA online has never been faster or easier. Check out the link to the official federal FAFSA website, and make a note of the items you'll need before finishing the application. Mostly, you'll need last year's income and tax forms so you can offer proof of your income and/or your family's income if that applies.

Go ahead and register for your unique, individual PIN number. Although they have sped up the process this year, it can still take a little while for the request to be processed and the number issued.

Once you have your annual income statements and related financial information - and your PIN - you're ready to get the application going. It won't take long if you're prepared, and you can receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in just another day or two!

Remember, organize and prepare so you don't get frustrated. Don't dwell on horror stories or complaints from people who had troubles with it. Every cent of aid you get is helping you toward your goal and you can't get any aid without trying.

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