03.03.09 | I’ve Filed My FAFSA, Now What?

Posted in FAFSA, Federal Work-Study, Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

It was Benjamin Franklin that quipped, nothing is certain but death and taxes, but in the world of financial aid the student_aidFAFSA is at the top of that short list. Completing your FAFSA is an absolute must. Without it I can tell you with great certainty that you will not receive federal grants or loans, so kudos to you for getting that done.

For those who have not yet completed the FAFSA, or wish to review our tips for effectively filing your FAFSA, in order to maximize your financial aid benefit package, (click here). Remember, you can always resubmit your FAFSA with updated data, which may lower your EFC (we’ll discuss Expected Family Contribution in greater detail shortly).

For the rest of you that completed and submitted your FAFSA and are wondering what to do next; you’ll have to wait as the Department of Education processes your application. When they’re finished they will send both you and the schools you highlighted on the FAFSA a three page report called a Student Aid Report (SAR).

The SAR is a report of what the government believes you can afford to pay out of pocket for college in the form of EFC, or Expected Family Contribution. This number is located in the top right hand corner. The lower the EFC number the greater the financial need.

As mentioned, the SAR is also sent to the colleges of your choice (up to six schools max), from which they create a financial aid awards letter detailing what aid they’re able to offer you. You will most likely receive this awards letter in the mail.

The awards letter is a comprehensive breakdown of all school related expenses, scholarship and grant money you qualify to receive, work-study eligibility, as well as the financial resources the school feels you have at your disposal to pay for one year of attendance. They also give recommendations as to the best loan options available.

The most common loan option students take advantage of when paying for school is the Stafford loan, which is divided into two categories, subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized Stafford loans are awarded based on financial need. You will not be charged interest before you begin repayment or during periods of deferment. The federal government “subsidizes” (or pays) the interest during these times. No payments are expected on the loan while you are enrolled as a full or half time student.

studentsUnsubsidized Stafford loans are not awarded based on financial need. Any eligible student can take out Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed, to the time the loan is repaid in full. No payments are expected on the loan while you are enrolled as a full or half time student.

Learn more about Stafford Loans.

For the upcoming 2009-2010 academic year the interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans, for undergraduate students, is fixed at 5.6%. If you fall into the unsubsidized category you will be extended a 6.8% fixed interest rate.

Private loans have also become a very attractive alternative these days with the prime rate at a 55-year low. Most private loans do require a co-signer. But the key is to send your FAFSA to as many schools as possible in hopes of fielding some attractive offers and limiting the amount of funds you need to borrow.

If you list multiple schools on your FAFSA you can use one school’s offer (awards letter) against another to try and land a better deal. Most schools generally set a May 1 deadline, which is why the financial aid officers refer to April as haggle month. Students and parents generally try to haggle for a better deal before the May 1 deadline.

So as you can see the FAFSA is just the beginning of the financial aid process, with many more steps in tow. But unlike the little engine that could, which repeated its motto I-think-I-can, as it climbed over that mountain top, I-know-you can! I know you can get thru the financial aid process, although sometimes it can seem daunting and overwhelming. You can do it, I just know you can.

Apply for a Federal Stafford Loan Now.

For all you hungry scholarshippoints members out there enjoy this code worth 10 points, FAFSADONE.

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01.21.09 | Stimulus for Your Student Aid?

Posted in Federal Work-Study, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

There is a new economics stimulus Bill that has been introduced into the House of Representatives, that could potentially increase your student aid package that you receive from your school.

The stimulus bill, would be part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009″ which is being designed to hopefully save millions of jobs, jump start the economy, and (cross your fingers) give you more financial aid:)

Here are the details:

  • Raise Pell grant maximum by $500 (from $4,850 to $5,350)
  • Increase unsub max amounts by $2000
  • provide $490 million dollars extra for work study for undergrad and graduate students
  • Provide $50 million to help the Dep’t of Ed administer new and surging student aid programs through this ever changing educational environment

Sounds pretty good to me…except the Stafford loan sub and unsub limits still don’t come any where close to covering tuition at a private university. Thoughts on this new proposal?

10.23.08 | Federal Work-Study

Posted in Federal Work-Study, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Did you know under the federal work-study program you can work part-time to earn money for your education? So what are the primary benefits of the program? See below.

- Provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school
- Helps pay your educational expenses
- Is available to undergraduate and graduate students
- Is available to full-time or part-time students
- Is administered by schools participating in the FWS Program
- Encourages community service work and work related to your course of study, whenever possible

So how do I know if I qualify?
Your school will inform you. It’s is all linked to your FAFSA and will be on your Awards letter. That said it’s important to get your FAFSA completed ASAP. The federal government provides only a certain amount of work-study funds to each qualified school and when those funds have been exhausted no additional work-study awards may be issued for the year.