Homeschool seniors: Complete the FAFSA by 2/14 for best college financial aid

Since homeschool parents must also wear the hat of the guidance counselor, it is important to know some of the key steps students need to take for college enrollment.  The FAFSA is one of those pieces you may not hear much about unless you have other friends who have trod the college admissions road ahead of you.

FAFSA is the acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and is a prerequisite for all federally subsidized grants, workstudy jobs and loans, and for many need-based and merit scholarships.  Whether a student attends community college, online university, or an Ivy League school, and whether the family can afford to pay the tuition or not, completing this document is nearly always recommended for each applicant.

What the FAFSA does:

  • Provides an index of financial need in a common form for all participating post-high school educational venues
    • Parent resources (for students who qualify as dependents) and student resources are listed to generate the index of the funds the family might be expected to contribute to the college costs (EFC–Expected Family Contribution)
  • Sends the EFC information to the schools of interest to the applicant
    • The schools compare the EFC with their costs and develop a financial aid package which will make up the difference
    • The package may include grants (which do not need to be paid back), loans (which need to be paid back, but are at a lower interest rate than most bank loans) or work study programs (typically a job on campus for the student to earn a portion of his schooling costs).  All of these are federally subsidized programs
      • The US Government provides over $150 billion in funds for higher education annually

 

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