When it comes to financial aid for online college, there are those who pass….and those who fail. Don't be one of those who fail. Avoid the following mistakes when financing the cost of an online degree.
Don't Not Apply
Yep, you read it right. Don't Not Apply. And any college bound student has learned that two negatives make a positive. So that heading can be interpreted as DO APPLY.
The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to paying for your college education is to not fill out the Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA sm). According to United States Department of Education, the U.S. government provides over $150 billion dollars in aid annually. And you could be eligible for a piece of that pie. But you will never know if you don't apply.
There are different types of financial aid for online college for applicants with different needs. Even if you feel like you or your family makes too much money to qualify, you won't know until you apply.
Is It All in the Timing?
You can apply for financial aid for online college beginning January 1. You will need information from your tax forms in order to complete the application. Therefore it is beneficial to do your taxes as soon as you can. Although the deadlines range from early spring to mid summer, depending on your state, the early bird may get the worm. There are various awards that are time sensitive and by completing your application early, you might put yourself in the running for an award that you could miss if you delay.
And speaking of deadlines, be sure the check when you application is due. If you are a procrastinator, or if you decide mid-year that you want to go to school, you will want to know when you can fill in an application. And don't be late.
Be sure that you fill out your applications completely. Blank lines can cause delays in processing your application. IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND A QUESTION, INVESTIGATE!!! Don't just guess. There are many sources you can turn to for answers. It is as easy as checking with your high school counselor, your college financial aid office or by calling the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-fed-aid. Any mistake you make can cause a delay in processing your application so review your application once it is complete. A delay can literally cost you money - financial aid for online college.
Don't Ignore Your Student Aid Report
It is so easy to fill out your application and just forget about it. DON'T DO IT. Once you have filled out the application, it is processed and a Student Aid Report (SAR) is sent to you. Carefully review this report. If it contains mistakes, you will not get the aid you might deserve. Pay particular attention if there has been a change in your or your family's income, work status, or assets. Changes can be submitted online.
Beyond the Federal Sources of Aid
Although all of the advice given above was geared toward federal student aid, nearly the same tips apply to other sources of financial aid for online college as well….you must apply for aid if you want to receive it….you must abide by deadlines….you should ensure that your application is complete and ask questions if you have any…and you should follow up with the bank, foundation, scholarship or grant committee, or any other source of funding that you pursue.
Help others avoid that mistake by telling them about it.