Rhode Island Monthly Higher Learning 2016 : Page 12

FAFSA And the CSS ProFile Although most colleges use FAFSA or the CSS Profile, the application process for college aid varies among schools, so check individual college websites for specifics. FAFSA forms are usually filed after January 1 of a student’s senior year, but the CSS Profile is usually required within a few weeks of submitting your application — which can mean the fall of senior year for early action and early decision applicants. Some colleges require families to submit financial aid forms only if they are applying for need-based aid, and others require students to file even if they are just applying for merit aid. Allison Dean, of Financial Aid Prep in Warwick, says, “One of the biggest mistakes I see families make is assuming that colleges only require FAFSA. They miss out on the CSS Profile deadline and substantial financial aid. Many private colleges require the CSS Profile.” StiCker PriCe vS. net CoSt The difference between sticker price and net price is the most important thing for families to understand as they consider the affordability of college. Sticker price is the total cost of tuition, room and board, and fees posted on a college website. Net price is the final cost after scholarships, grants, work study, loans and other financial aid is applied. Federal law requires every college in the country to post a net price calculator on its website. By entering data from the previous year’s tax return, the calculator estimates a student’s annual net cost to attend each school after scholarships, loans and other sources of aid. Keep in mind that while some calculators estimate merit aid, not all do. You should be careful to note how much of your aid comes in the form of money that does not have to be paid back versus loans. This is an estimate, and your final cost will not be locked in until you file your financial aid forms. students may borrow up to $31,000 over four years. These loans are available to all college students, but whether the loans are subsidized or unsubsidized depends on your need. Pell Grants, which can total up to $5,775 per year, do not have to be repaid and are targeted for students with significant financial need. Pell Grant recipients may also be eligible for a Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) of up to $4,000 per year. For students who intend to teach after college, Teach Grants can provide $3,728 per year if you agree to teach in an underserved school district for at least four years after college (you may opt to repay the grant as a loan if you cannot fulfill your commitment). The federal government also offers Direct PLUS programs, which allow parents to borrow the cost of attendance less any other aid received. You must have a good credit history to qualify, and the loans presently have an interest rate of 6.84 percent. Parents and students can also access a variety of college loans through Sallie Mae, local and national banks. Those considering military service will want to consider ROTC scholarships and stipends. Funding varies depending on the branch of service you select (Army, Marine, Navy or Air Force), and you need to ensure that your chosen college has an ROTC program or access to one. Scholarships can total up to $180,000 for four years, and stipends typically range from $250 to $500 per month. Keep in mind that there is a commitment to serve after graduation, and the minimums vary by military branch. The deadline to apply for ROTC scholarships is January 10. MiCro SCholArShiPS FederAl GrAntS And loAnS Uncle Sam offers loans and grants, many of which are based on demonstrated financial need. To apply for a Stafford Loan, Pell Grant or other federal aid, you must fill out and submit a FAFSA form. It’s best to file FAFSA by February of senior year in high school. In past years, this has meant that many families needed to do their taxes early. However, FAFSA will be releasing the 2018-2019 academic year form in October of 2017, three months earlier than usual. Additionally, families will be able to use the tax information from the previous April to apply. So, applicants filing for the 2018-2019 academic year can submit data from the 2016 tax year, making the process much easier. Stafford Loans are the most common form of federal aid. As the name denotes, the money does have to be paid back, but it is at a favorable interest rate with liberal terms. Dependent The newest concept in scholarships to take off has been “micro scholarships.” Raise.me, a startup backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania and Facebook, allows any United States high school student in grades nine through twelve to earn scholarship money from colleges based on their achievements and regardless of income. For example, high schoolers can earn scholarships for each final grade of an A or B in a class, participating in an after-school club or spending a few hours volunteering in their community. More than sixty colleges currently participate, and the list is growing quickly. There are deadlines and there is a minimum GPA for many colleges, but students can earn up to $60,000 in awards. new enGlAnd reGionAl diSCountS Too often overlooked is the New England Board of Higher Education Regional Student Program (NEBHE RSP) which reduces the sticker price of public institutions in nearby states. This program allows New England residents to attend a public 12 RHODE ISL AND MONTHLY I higher le arning I 2016

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