Late last year it became quite apparent that it was time for me to cover the costs for my college degree. My parents had been helping before, but I’m an adult now, and I wanted to earn my degree with my own paycheck. Financial independence in mind, I decided it was time to meet with the financial aid office.
As I began this journey towards financial independence, I realized that I didn’t even know where I should get started. My research started by looking up online college for ways to reduce my costs, which was quite helpful. Common sense told me the financial aid office might be a good spot, but I had to look it up on a map to even find it. The whole process of earning financial aid seemed far too mysterious than it should have.
Although I didn’t have a guidebook to help me out with the process, I can absolutely help you with it. It seems a lot less complicated when you have someone sharing their own experience along the way. Starting with the financial aid process is the right place to begin; usually, they’re the people who can answer all your questions for you.
Actually, there’s a minor step before you even head to your appointment at the financial aid office. You need to sign online and see if there are any forms you’re required to bring with you to the office. For example, I had to bring paperwork that proved my state residency as well as paperwork that proved I was married. Although you might not need to bring in exactly what I did, it’s important that you check ahead so you don’t have to make more than one trip. Don’t forget to look up undergraduate scholarships while you are online, so you will know about all of your options.
While you’re hunting to try and figure out what kind of paperwork you need, you should see if you can set up a personal, one-on-one appointment with an advisor at the financial aid office. Often, the lines stretching from the door of the financial aid office curve practically around the campus, so having a set appointment is a better idea than just showing up unannounced. If you can’t set an appointment, you should make every effort to show up at the office right when they open, or even a little bit before. You’ll appreciate the time spent not waiting in line, even if you have to be awake a little bit earlier.
Having an appointment is almost as important as having your paperwork in order. However, I neglected to tell you the number one most important step before you step foot into your financial aid office. Understandably, they’re going to want some financial information from you to see what type of financial aid is going to be best suited to your needs. Luckily, there’s actually already a standard form in place to consolidate this information and make it less complicated for you.
This form is actually an application called the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s designed to take roughly an hour to complete, and it asks you a myriad of questions. You’re going to need to have your latest tax return handy, and be ready for it to delve into the personals about your bank account. However, filling it out immediately makes your visit to the financial aid office far less complicated. Take the time to get your FAFSA in order before you visit the financial aid office.
So, stepping foot into the financial aid office is actually the last step on your financial aid journey. Luckily, as long as you’re organized, earning financial aid should be easy – and you’ll have little trouble being successful. Be sure to look into some of the online education programs at Education Connection for even more opportunities to save.