09.13.10 | What the FAFSA? Words of Wisdom about the Financial Aid Form

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

In my previous post, I gave a quick run down of the types of financial aid that I can apply for to help finance my education. Applying for federal aid will be my first step, so I want to start preparing my FAFSA form.

Why do I need to fill out a FAFSA form?

In order to qualify for federal aid for students, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S. Department of Education. This form is used to calculate your financial aid eligibility based on the financial and demographic information for you and your family.

Once complete, the Department of Education will forward a record of the application to the school/schools you specify.

What can I do now to prepare my FAFSA?

While the FAFSA needs to be filed with your 2010 tax information (which you won’t get until at least January of next year), it is recommended that you get a head start on gathering the right information now. In fact, most of what you’ll need for the FAFSA can be taken care of now. You can also estimate your tax information based on this years forms, however, this is only recommended if you can make a very accurate guess.

Below is a check list for what you and your family can do now to prepare early for the college financial aid application process:

Financial Aid Deadlines: Begin gathering the deadlines for your financial aid applications. Each school may have different deadlines.

Tax Information: Grab your 2010 tax forms, and anything else you are preparing for 2011 as well. You’ll receive your W2′s in February of next year and you may want to update your FAFSA when that information arrives.

Asset and Demographic Information: This where you list the financial details about you and your family, including your assets and demographic information. For help with what this will entail, visit FAFSAOnline.com and send your parents here.

School List: You can tell the Department of Education to send your results to a maximum of 10 schools. You will have to list the schools by their school code, which can be found here: FAFSAOnline.com – School Code List. When you’re looking into schools and noting their deadlines, make sure you find their code as well.

FAFSA Pin: Both you and your parents need to sign up for a FAFSA Pin #. This number will be used to identify you throughout the application process, and you can get it early and put it away in a safe place!

Ok, now go! You can download the FAFSA form now. You may file it early, but you will have to then update the forms next year with your new tax information.

06.23.10 | Were your Stafford loans enough?

Posted in Stafford Loan, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Seeing as it is the end of June, most of you have received your financial aid award letters and know what your federal loans look like for the upcoming academic year.

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So, did you receive enough money in Stafford loans? Keep in mind that there are annual limits for each category (subsidized and unsubsidized) and you can only be awarded funds up to these maximums. (more…)

03.02.10 | Why get a Federal Stafford Loan?

Posted in Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

First off, if you haven’t filed your FAFSA yet… get on it! Many schools’ deadlines have already arrived for financial aid, and the rest are all due within the next month. Without the information contained in your Student Aid Report (SAR) submitted to your school, they can’t begin to put together your aid package.

OK — PSA aside, let’s talk a little about Stafford loans. If you’ve read my Stafford Loans, in Plain English blog (and I hope you have… it has good stuff in it), you know the basics.

Saving Money

To use an analogy, a Stafford loan is like a pair of designer jeans you happened upon in a discount store. They have a lot of value, and cost much less than if you bought them at their original store (or in the case of loans, applied for a private student loan instead.)

Stafford loans are the most desirable type of loans that you can take out for your education due to their low, fixed interest rates. In contrast, private student loans generally have higher, variable interest rates that fluctuate with the economy and can end up costing you ridiculous amounts of interest. So, if you need to take out a loan… try to make it a Stafford. It will save your money in the long run.

02.22.10 | Stafford Loans, in Plain English

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

Stafford loanNow that it’s FAFSA time, I thought that the second installment of this blog should focus on a piece of federal aid that many students receive as part of their award: the federal Stafford loan. Read on to find answers to questions like: “What is it?”, “What does it do for me?”, and “What is it going to cost me?”

What is a federal Stafford loan? The Stafford loan is a type of financial aid granted from the United States government to students who file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and show demonstrated financial need. The Stafford Loan program is an evolution of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, established in 1965, and was named after a Republican senator from Vermont who was highly honored and respected for his work on higher education reform. (more…)

02.12.10 | FAFSA and You

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

To open, I’d like to ask a simple question: Have you filed your FAFSA yet? If no, you should know that the FAFSA is one of the most valuable financial aid tools in a student’s arsenal (besides scholarships and grants, which are the best) because it shows the government and your school that you need money for college.

In the eyes of your future school, neglecting to file a FAFSA is equivalent to leaving a gigantic tip on on a small meal – you only do it because you don’t care, or money is no object. Depending on your level of need, there is potential to get a significant portion of your cost of attendance financed at attractive interest rates, and/or qualify for a Pell Grant, which you do not need to pay back. Also, the FAFSA applies to both undergraduate AND graduate students.

So why the urgency? “I read on the Government website that my FAFSA isn’t actually due until June 30, right?” — Technically yes, but the real answer is no. In the case of colleges and universities, the financial aid department of your school will actually set a separate financial aid deadline in order to give themselves enough time to put together everyone’s aid packages.

The bottom line: The longer you wait to file your FAFSA, the less chance you have of receiving an excellent financial aid package from your school. Also, be on the lookout for a separate school-only financial aid form – sometimes they require more than just the FAFSA to evaluate your need; you can contact your financial aid office to ask if there are more forms involved.

One last thing! Don’t forget to send your FAFSA to all the schools you applied to. When you are completing the application, there will be an option toward the end to add the receiving schools by school code… just make sure you get them all in there and you will be A-OK paperwork-wise when your school begins to review financial need.

ScholarshipPoints Redemption Code: FAFSA2K10

11.10.09 | Can a Lender Decline me for the Stafford Loan?

Posted in Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

A FFEL lender is prohibited from discriminating against an applicant on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, or disability. However, a lender may decline to make loans to students who do not meet the lender’s credit standards, to students at a particular school because of the school’s default rate, or to students enrolled in a particular program of study. A lender may also decline to make FFELs for less than a specified amount, for example, $500.

The good news is that there’s more than one FFEL lender available to disburse funds for students.  If one lender turns you down you should complete a MPN with a new one.  Check with your school for a list of lenders they work with.