August 28, 2009
With colleges heading back this week, you should have your financial aid already lined up, but it’s the perfect time to start planning for next year.
Let’s go over the basics:
* Fill out the FAFSA as early as you can. Financial aid is first-come, first-served so get your paperwork in early. If you ‘re waiting on a few last 1099s, use your existing paperwork to file early, and file an amendment when everything finally arrives. If you use a tax prefessionsal, they will often file the FAFSA for you for little to no additional charge.
* You need the FAFSA for all federal loans, such as Stafford, PLUS and Perkins loans. Some scholarships also require the FAFSA.
*Always exhaust your federal options first, such as Perkins, Stafford and PLUS loans, before looking at alternative sources of funding such as private loans or home equity loans. Federal student loan offer borrower incentives and protections that you will not find elsewhere.
March 11, 2009
President Obama yesterday clarified some point on his higher education plan in a speech before the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative conference.
Given that this is a student loan blog, I got a chuckle out of his comment that it currently requires a PhD to figure out student loan aid – and I”m sure many of you would agree! The process most definitely needs simplification.
Read an excerpt of the president’s comments below:
“The fifth part of America’s education strategy is providing every American with a quality higher education – whether it’s college or technical training. Never has a college degree been more important. And never has it been more expensive. At a time when so many of our families are bearing enormous economic burdens, the rising cost of tuition threatens to shatter dreams. That is why will simplify federal college assistance forms so it doesn’t take a PhD to apply for financial aid. And that is why we are already taking steps to make college or technical training affordable.
For the first time ever, Pell Grants will not be subject to the politics of the moment or the whims of the market – they will be a commitment that Congress is required to uphold each and every year. Further, because rising costs mean Pell Grants cover less than half as much tuition as they did thirty years ago, we are raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 a year and indexing it above inflation. We are also providing a $2,500 a year tuition tax credit for students from working families. And we are modernizing and expanding the Perkins Loan Program to make sure schools like UNLV don’t get a tenth as many Perkins Loans as schools like Harvard. To help pay for all of this, we are putting students ahead of lenders by eliminating wasteful student loan subsidies that cost taxpayers billions each year. All in all, we are making college affordable for seven million more students with a sweeping investment in our children’s futures and America’s success. And I call on Congress to join me – and the American people – by helping make these investments possible.”
You can read the complete text of his address at the Wall Street Journal’s blog, Washington Wire.
January 15, 2009
It’s January, and that means you should get your FAFSA in NOW!
The easiest way is to do your taxes first, then copy the numbers over to the FAFSA as the FAFSA directly references the IRS 1040 form.
If you don’t have all your data yet, that’s OK – you can file based on what you have, such as your pay stubbs if your W-2s haven’t showed up yet, then file an amendment later.
I highly suggest you read the FAFSA Guide eBook, offered free from the Student Loan Network. It goes over the FAFSA line by line and explains it in terms we can all understand. It also has great tips on how to make sure you’re getting the most aid you qualify for.