Searching for Scholarships can definitely begin earlier than senior year, but now is a perfect time for seniors to use their free time for searching and applying for scholarships. Many students ask me where to search and how to get the most money. Unfortunately, there is no single, simple answer.
As I receive copies of my students' award letters, I continue to be astonished by how complex and confusing these letters can be, especially for those not familiar with the financial aid jargon. It is disappointing that some schools continue to take advantage of the students and families by presenting their packages in very deceiving formats leading families to believe some colleges are more affordable than they actually are. An important part of the work I do with my families is helping them decipher these letters and make an informed college decision.
As college application season is fully underway, it is important to learn about the primary financial aid applications and types of aid your student could receive. The two most common applications used by colleges across the US are the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE, and they need to be filed prior to each year the student plans on attending college.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the standard form used by all schools to determine the amount of federal aid a student will receive. The application opens on October 1 each year and closes the following June 30. The FAFSA calculates the EFC (Expected Family Contribution), what the government considers a reasonable amount the family should be able to contribute to the student's educational costs whether or not a parent wants to contribute to their child's education.