07.24.13 | 5 Ways to Cover College Costs

Posted in College Life, FAFSA, financial aid tips, Scholarships, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Paying for CollegeWhether you’re a soon-to-be freshman or second semester senior, it is never easy to figure out how to cover the costs of college. With tuition and hidden fees of private colleges averaging out to about $40,000 per year, many of you are still wondering how your family is expected to pay for $35,000 of your education, even after having received your Student Aid Report (SAR) three months ago. To help you out in your pursuit of a college degree, here are 5 ideas for paying for college when Federal aid comes up short.

Befriend the Financial Aid Office

If you are disappointed by the amount of financial aid that you receive, try talking to your financial aid office. Many colleges have an appeal process for financial aid, so get on a first-name basis with someone in the financial aid office and see what else can be done.

Search for Scholarships

There are millions of dollars in scholarships that go unclaimed every year, so why not spend a few days this summer searching and applying for as many scholarships as you can find? On average, you will win 1 out of every 10 scholarships that you apply for, so don’t get discouraged. For starters, try visiting our recommended scholarship search website, or try winning scholarships through the ScholarshipPoints program. (more…)

03.28.13 | How Repealing DOMA Could Affect Financial Aid

Posted in College Life, FAFSA, Financial Aid, News by Student Loan Network Staff

This week has brought a flood of news on gay rights as Supreme Court justices review the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). The repeal of DOMA would bring many benefits to same-sex families, such as death benefits, tax incentives, and health insurance coverage.

What does this have to do with financial aid? A lot, actually.

An increasingly common issue in the financial aid application process is how LGBT families file the FAFSA.

Because of DOMA, financial aid for same-sex families is determined differently and can lead to non-uniform aid awards. When filing the FAFSA, both parents (if married) are required to provide their financial information. In the case where marriage is not federally recognized, only one parent would be able to file for the student, leading to increased financial aid for the family. What’s more, any financial support from the other parent would be reported as untaxed income and subject to different treatment in the aid calculations. The same logic applies to married students.

If DOMA is repealed, the application process would be streamlined for all married couples. Financial aid would take all financial support for the student into account, and the question of “which parent should file the FAFSA” would be eliminated for these families.

This also means that same-sex families might get less financial aid, because financial awards would be based on both parents’ income and assets, not just one.

Clearly DOMA has far-reaching impacts for college students and their families, as repealing DOMA would mean uniformity in the financial aid process for all married couples.

01.14.13 | 5 Tips for Filing Your FAFSA

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Person Typing on ComputerWith the holidays coming to a close, many of you are putting down the eggnog and starting to prepare for the upcoming year. All those who will be entering college in the fall, whether it be for their freshman or senior year, are trying to minimize the costs of school, and the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the best ways to do that.

I’m back from my third semester of college to provide some tips for filing the FAFSA. So, without further ado, here are my five pieces of FAFSA advice.

1. Do It

Many families don’t file the FAFSA because they believe that they earn too much to qualify for federal aid. Income is only one of the factors that determines eligibility, so you should file the FAFSA regardless of income. Even if you only qualify for $500 of federal aid, this is certainly better than nothing.

01.04.13 | Changes to the 2013-2014 FAFSA

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, News by Student Loan Network Staff

It’s January, and that means FAFSA season is underway! Students can now file their FAFSAs for the 2013-2014 academic year. As you prepare to file, we wanted to make sure that you have all the information at your fingertips, so read on to learn about some of the changes and enhancements that were made to the FAFSA form this year.

Food Stamps

To stay in line with program changes, references to food stamps have been altered to say Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Additionally, explanatory text regarding this name change has been removed from questions 74-78 and 95-99.

High School Information

Starting this year, if you answer “High School Diploma” to the high school completion status question, you are now required to complete the subsequent questions about the name, city, and state of your school. This change is intended to better-ensure applicant eligibility.

10.03.12 | What color is the FAFSA form this year

Every year we get the same question, so here is your answer:

For the 2013–2014 year, the FAFSA will be green, with a purple section for parents.

For the current year, 2012–2013 the FAFSA is orange.

In previous years:

  • 2011–2012 FAFSA was Yellow
  • 2010–2011 FAFSA was Blue

For detailed information on completing the FAFSA, visit FAFSAonline.

03.14.12 | Don’t miss your FAFSA deadlines!

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Many FAFSA deadlines have come and gone. While there is still time to file (the federal deadline is not until June 30th) many state and college deadlines are quickly approaching.

For states like Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan, the deadlines have passed. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t file, it’s just that you may be out of the running for any state and local grant/scholarship programs. For the full list of state deadlines, visit FAFSAOnline.com.

For those of you who haven’t filed, make sure you do and soon! The earlier you file, the better chance you have at receiving state, school, and local aid. If you’re waiting until taxes are filed, you don’t have to. File your FAFSA with estimated numbers based on last year, or select “will file”. This way, you can get your FAFSA filed on time, and simply file a FAFSA correction when you’re ready.

So find your FAFSA deadlines before it’s too late!

02.24.12 | Get help with your FAFSA: Video tutorial

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, financial aid tips by Student Loan Network Staff

We’re in the midst of FAFSA season, and while some of you early birds may have already filed and gotten your Student Aid Report, there’s still plenty of time to file before the federal FAFSA deadline of June 30th.

So if you procrastinate like I do, and have not filed your FAFSA yet, this tutorial may be a great asset for you. UC Santa Barbara developed this great video series to help students answer the FAFSA questions that might not be so straight forward. Take a look, and make sure to get your FAFSA filed before your state or school deadlines!

02.09.12 | Who is considered a parent for the FAFSA?

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, financial aid tips by Student Loan Network Staff

With all of the recent changes made by the Department of Education, the FAFSA has gotten easier for families to file. Having said that, there are still some questions that remain difficult to answer for many students.

One question I see a lot from dependent students is “whose information do I use for the FAFSA?” With all of the different family situations out there, it can be difficult to tell who the FAFSA considers a parent, and unfortunately, it’s not always who claims you as a dependent on taxes! If you’re not sure whose financial information to enter on your FAFSA, take a look at this flow chart to help you determine the answer!

02.01.12 | Auto-fill your FAFSA with IRS Data Retrieval

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Hand on MouseHappy February! While we still have to wait one more day to find out if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, you do not have to wait any longer to use FAFSA’s IRS Data Retrieval option! Starting today, February 1, students and parents who have filed their taxes can pull this information directly into their FAFSA.

In the past, filling out the financial information on the FAFSA has been a hassle since parents and students had to manually enter all of the information. Plus, this information would then need to be cross-referenced with the IRS by the financial aid office. This new IRS data retrieval option takes the some of the burden off of the families, allowing for an easy way to fill out the FAFSA.

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet for the year, no worries. You can select the “Will File” option, then when your taxes have been filed, log back into your FAFSA and update using the IRS Data Retrieval tool. To learn more about the IRS Data Retrieval option read, “IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA

Remember, if you haven’t filed your FAFSA yet, get started! The earlier you apply the more likely you are to receive certain types of aid! If you need help, make sure to download our free FAFSA Guide ebook, or head on over to FAFSAOnline.com for step by step instructions to this year’s form!

01.18.12 | Paying for college: What you should know

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, financial aid tips, News by Student Loan Network Staff

Misty makes some excellent points in this video, especially for families who are applying for financial aid for the first time. She mentions that the FAFSA is free, and we can’t stress this enough! For families who have questions about the FAFSA, feel free to pose a question to the financial aid experts at FinancialAidForum.com, or check out some of the other common questions from families.