Gear up for financial aid


January is fast approaching and that means it’s time for seniors to seriously consider college financial aid for the upcoming school year.

In addition to private scholarships, federal financial aid is available for students attending two-year or four-year, public or private, career or trade colleges and schools. The aid is intended to cover expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, other supplies and transportation. Most students receive the aid based on financial need.

Students can receive federal financial aid in the form of grants, loans or work- study. Grants are f inancial awards that do not have to be repaid. Examples include Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Loans are money you borrow and must repay. The best loans are those that are subsidized by the federal or your state government. These generally carr y lower interest rates. Work-study provides jobs, usually on campus, so students can help pay for education expenses.

To find out about federal financial aid programs and your rights and responsibilities under these programs, read “Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid” from the U. S. Department of Education at guide. You also can request a free paper copy by contacting the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-FED-AID. The guide is available in both English and Spanish. A lso, be sure to check out the ACT website at You’ll find a good financial aid overview in easyto understand language, plus a list of resources to contact for more information on loans, scholarships and government programs.

HOW TO APPLY—If you’re planning to attend college next fall, January is the time to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Information from the FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for the federal student aid programs mentioned above—grants, loans and work-study.

You can get the FAFSA: online at; from your school counselor; from a college financial aid office; from a local public library; from the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.

Make sure you check financial aid deadlines. The FAFSA will list deadlines for federal and state aid. Also check the requirements at the colleges you’re interested in applying to. Some require additional financial aid forms.

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2011-12-08 digital edition

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