Financial aid is one of the most complex facets of college admissions.
Qualification for need-based aid is determined through a variety of measures, and many schools offer some form of merit scholarship. These scholarships can vary in amount, and can make private college tuition more competitive with public college alternatives.
Kinds of Financial Aid Your financial aid package will depend on your “financial need”, on your academic records, and on additional qualities. Three kinds of financial aid are available:
Grants: Financial awards which do not have to be paid back.
College Loans: Financial awards made with a formal agreement for repayment with interest
Work-study: A federally funded program that provides part-time employment to students to earn money for educational expenses.
What is the FAFSA? - The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The federal government uses it to determine your eligibility for federal aid, which includes grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 of each year.
What is an FSA ID? - The FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. Allowing you to you to: (1) electronically sign your FAFSA, (2) check the status of your electronic FAFSA, and (3) make any changes necessary to your personal information online
What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)? - The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a figure that projects what a family can pay for higher education in the upcoming year. Your family’s EFC is determined by the federal government through the information supplied in your FAFSA. - A family with an “EFC” of $10,000 will be judged with no need at a CUNY school with costs less than $10,000, while they may qualify for $15-30,000 at the most expensive of the country’s private colleges and universities.
What is a SAR? - A Student Aid Report (SAR) is a report that is generated after you complete your FAFSA. It contains all the information you wrote or entered on the FAFSA, and it is your official record or proof that the federal processor received your FAFSA. You should receive a SAR 1 – 2 weeks after filing. - Note your Data Release Number (DRN), a four-digit number located on the bottom left-hand corner of your SAR. You will need it to apply for aid to any school you did not originally list on your FAFSA. - Check if your SAR had been selected for verification. If there is an asterisk (*) after your EFC, it means your SAR has been selected for verification.
Gather documents. Have your families W2 forms on file as well as prior-prior year taxes (2016)
FSA ID. Both you and you parent/guardian must create an FSA ID. This will be your legal digital signiature.
Fill out your FAFSA. Complete your FAFSA form, you may link your FAFSA to the IRS using the Digital Retrieval Tool. You may add up to 10 schools that you are applying to.
Wait for your Student Aid Report (SAR). This will be e-mailed to you. It is confirmation that your FAFSA has been completed and sent. If necessary, you may now go back into your FAFSA, delete your 10 schools, add any additional schools, then send again.
Review the SAR. Be sure that you and your parent/ guardian thoroughly reviews the SAR, and confirms that all information is correct.