Paying for College
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Getting financial aid can require some navigation, but it’s worth it. Reducing the amount you have to repay, either through scholarships and grants, or through lower interest loans, can make your post-college years more financially fulfilling.
Here’s an overview that describes key points in the process, which starts with the FAFSA.
- Fill out the FAFSA early and often
Applications can be submitted beginning October 1st of your senior year in high school, and then every year throughout your college career.
- Verify your Student Aid Report (SAR)
The Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which contains your expected family contribution (EFC) and summarizes your FAFSA information. Review the SAR for accuracy. If necessary, correct and return. Make a copy of the updated (corrected) SAR when you receive it.
- Provide additional information as required as quickly as possible
Watch your mailbox and email inbox for communications from the federal government or the colleges that have accepted your application. Schools may request additional documents. Some FAFSAs are also selected to verify for accuracy. Provide the requested documents right away so you don’t lose out on possible aid. See the Verification Q&A document for more information.
- Look for financial aid award letters
Schools will send you financial aid award letters itemizing your aid offer or package. Offers will vary, so be sure to compare them before you make your final selection and determine how much of the award you want to accept.
- Continue researching and applying for additional scholarships and grants
Don’t settle for what is in your financial aid award letter. Look for additional opportunities to help you offset more of the amount you need to borrow. Read more about the scholarships and how to search for them.