By Wanda Montañez, Ed.D., Chyten Senior Director of College Success
A college education has become increasingly more expensive over the years for both private and public institutions. However, help is available in the form of financial aid to offset the cost of a college degree.
To qualify for federal and state dollars, students can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opened this year on October 1st, to help offset the cost of college. Filing FAFSA may seem like a daunting process, but over the years the form has been made more user friendly. Below are some tips for completing FAFSA, as well as some frequently asked questions associated with financing a college degree.
Note that specific information is required to submit FAFSA, both from the student and the student’s parents or guardians. However, unless the student is no longer a dependent, parents are the ones who fill out and submit FASFA. Before heading over to fafsa.ed.gov to submit the form, be sure to have the following pieces of information readily available:
Information Needed for Submitting Your FASFA Form
- 2016 Tax Return: Many FASFA questions will ask for specific information that can be found on your tax documents. The form will tell you on exactly which line you can find the information. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool may be used to retrieve this information quickly as well.
- Social Security Number or Permanent Resident Number: You cannot file FAFSA without providing this information unless you’re considered an eligible non-citizen. See ed.gov for specific information.
- FSA ID: This is your electronic signature. You can create your FSA ID before filing the FAFSA. This is an important number that you’ll need each year you submit the form, so keep this somewhere safe!
- Untaxed Income Information: If you have any untaxed income, such as child support, interest income, or veterans’ benefits, you will need to provide this information when submitting the form.
- Asset Information: FAFSA will ask for information about your assets, including savings and checking account balances, investments, and real estate.
Here’s a helpful guide for parents who are completing and submitting FASFA to assist in paying for the cost of college.
I’ve Submitted My FAFSA, Now What?
- FAFSA determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Upon immediate completion, FAFSA will provide you with your EFC. This is the amount of money your family is expected to pay for college. This number remains the same for all of the colleges a student has applied to, regardless of that specific institution’s cost.
- FAFSA determines eligibility for federal financial aid: This includes federal grants and loans.
Submitting Supplemental Forms to Cover the Cost of College
Some colleges may require that you submit other documents in order for your student to be considered for financial aid. For example, some colleges may require a CSS Profile or their own financial aid application. The full list of colleges that require completion of CSS Profile can be found on the College Board website.
Funding Sources for International Students
Below is a list of funding resources available to international students applying to colleges and universities in the U.S.
- Institutional Aid: Institutional aid may be available for international students based on merit. This money is usually allocated based on test scores, academic record, or a special skill or talent. In addition, need-based scholarships may also be available from particular college or universities if a student demonstrates a predetermined level of need for this form of funding.
- Scholarships and Grants: There are private, corporate, nonprofit, and government scholarship funds that serve undergraduate international students. Seek out this funding through scholarship databases such as com.
- Private Loans: A variety of organizations and institutions provide private loans to international students.
- Personal Resources: Family contributions and personal income can help international students fund their U.S. education.
College can be expensive! FAFSA is one option that may help cover some or all of the cost of obtaining a degree. Other opportunities, such as scholarships and grants based on financial need or merit, can also help pay for higher education. Working toward academic and test-prep goals throughout high school can open the door toward greater opportunities for college funding.
Is your student on track for college? Chyten’s College Endeavor Program is demystifying the college process for high-school juniors through a 5-step program that helps students establish a personalized college admission blueprint. Want to learn more? Email or call Academic Director Vicki Jones at (617) 487-4401.