Most people don’t have $20,000-$60,000 to pay for their college tuition or the cost of their child’s tuition. And after crunching the numbers and estimating the cost of college, some people bypass higher education altogether. The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t want anyone to miss out on an education. For this matter, Department of Education student loans are available to help you (or your child) achieve educational and career goals. College isn’t only an option for people with a huge bank account. There are loans for dependent and independent graduate and undergraduate students, as well as options for parents.
If you believe that Department of Education student loans are right for you or your child, here are steps to apply for financial aid.
1. Gather Financial Information
Before applying for financial aid, you’ll need to gather your personal financial information. This includes your most recent tax returns, bank statements and investment forms. The Department of Education and schools require this information to match you with the most appropriate student loan programs and determine eligibility amounts. If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to list your parent’s financial information on the application.
2. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Regardless of the type of loan you need for college, start the process by completing a free application for financial aid. There are several programs, and the FAFSA determines your eligibility for each program. You can download and submit a paper application, or apply online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Online applications are recommended, as this method speeds the process.
The application will ask for your Social Security number and driver’s license number, as well as your parent’s Social Security number if you’re a dependent student. You’ll also need to list at least one college or university on your application. This school will receive your information and determine the types of aid you can receive.
3. Get Help With Your Application
Submitting an incomplete application can delay Department of Education student loans. It is important that you provide all necessary information. If you have questions, there are ways to get help with your application. The FAFSA website can provide answers to general questions, or you can contact the FAFSA hotline for help with completing your application. Although it’s free to apply for federal financial aid, you can hire a FAFSA preparer for a fee. This ensures the proper completion of your application.
You will receive a Student Aid Report about four weeks after submitting your application. A report is also sent to the college(s) listed on your FAFSA application. This report summarizes the information provided on your application and will calculate your Expected Family Contribution. Based on this calculation, your college or university will design a financial aid package for you.
Carefully review the package, and then contact your financial aid department to either accept or reject the award. If you decide to accept the reward, schedule an appointment to complete entrance counseling. This is where a financial aid counselor explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, and you sign a promissory note agreeing to repay the student loan.