Last year, I decided that I didn’t want to accept my parent’s help anymore. I wanted to be the person who was paying for my degree. I wanted to be able to look up at my diploma and know that I had funded it with my own money. Financial independence became my goal, and I headed towards the financial aid office with intention on my mind.
Of course, I failed to take into consideration that I had absolutely no idea what the first steps of acquiring financial aid even were. I started by researching online college to learn all I could about reducing my costs. I also had to look up the financial aid office on a campus map just to find it. Turns out, I’d been walking past it on almost a daily basis without even noticing. Financial aid just seemed so shrouded in mystery, and I didn’t exactly know where to get started.
My life would have been made significantly easier if I had a guidebook for the financial aid process. Unfortunately, I didn’t. Fortunately, I can make one for you. First step is contacting the financial aid office – it’s the right place to get started because they can inform you about everything you need to know.
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 scholarships students while you are online, so you will know about all of your options.
Speaking of visiting the financial aid office, if you can, make an appointment instead of just dropping by. The lines for the financial aid office can often be insanely long, so if you’re planning on visiting impromptu, your wait could last awhile. If you can’t make an appointment, try to show up as early as you can – five minutes before the office opens is usually a safe bet.
So, your appointment? Check. Your paperwork? Check. There’s one more thing on the list before you step your feet into your financial aid office, and that’s making sure that your financial information is organized and available for perusal. That can sound like a daunting task, until I tell you that there’s actually already a form in place to consolidate this information and make it easier for access.
The form can be found online as well as at your financial aid office, though it’s probably easier to fill out online because you’ll have easier access to all the information you need. It should take you about an hour to fill out, and it asks a lot of questions. This questions cover topics from your financial history to whether your parents are helping you pay for school to your latest tax return. Taking the time to fill it out is going to significantly ease the complication of applying for financial aid!
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.