While summer vacation may be on the brain, it's never too early to start preparing for the dreaded activity that comes before classes each fall: applying for financial aid. Whether you're a first time college student, or preparing to take your student back to school for their final year, being aware of all your financial aid options is important to help avoid spending money when you don't need to. We've come up with 5 great tips before you start applying.
1) Apply for aid as soon as possible. When you're about to apply for student aid, don't focus on the deadline, but focus on how early you can submit your information. The faster you get responses, the sooner you'll be able to readjust your spending plans or look for other sources of payment.
2) Apply for Federal Aid, even if you don't think you apply. It really doesn't matter if you think you qualify for financial support from the government or not; there is nothing to lose by applying for aid. If you do qualify, you'll get a great benefit of support; if you don't qualify, many other private grants and scholarships require proof that you can't receive federal aid before you can be eligible for their funds.
3) Appeal to both federal and private aid options. While gaining benefits from governmental aid can be great, don't forget to consider private grants and scholarships. Even if your tuition is covered by federal aid, it's not unheard of to gain supplemental funds to cover things like room, board and even book costs.
4) Know all the opportunities your school offers. Many colleges and universities have scholarship and grant funds that are allocated for students in particular clubs, schools or even career tracks. When you apply for a school, request to know all about their financial support and even mention your intended major and minor, which may provide other funding opportunities.
5) Know how to market yourself (or your child) for success. When applying for scholarships, grants and other funds, be sure to highlight qualities and experiences that could encourage someone to fund your furthering education. While it may seem inconsequential to you, those 4 years of volunteering at the local library may be the deciding factor for a scholarship board.
What tips would you give to students and parents looking for financial aid? Let us know in the comments below!
Want more info on saving for college? Check out our infographic: "College Spending Prep."