The Biggest Financial Aid Mistake

The deadline is approaching quickly for the most important of all the financial aid forms.  If you are an adult student considering returning to college in the coming fall or winter, you will want to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible. The biggest mistake a nontraditional student can make is to miss the FAFSA deadline, or to skip applying at all because you assume you will not be eligible for assistance.

Grants, scholarships and loans are available to adult and part-time students. The federal Department of Education   provides funding for more than $42 billion in grants and $115 billion in federal student loans each year, and there is no age limit for these programs. Almost everyone is eligible for some type of federal student aid. Also, applying for federal aid is free, and there is no credit check applied to federal student loans. It costs nothing itself to fill out the FAFSA. An online application can be found at www.fafsa.gov.  

The deadline for the FAFSA for the 2013-14 academic year is June 30. Corrections or updates to the form can be submitted by Sept. 24, so even if you do not have all of the information available, you can fill out the form now and update it later. Typically, your completed 2012 tax form will have all the information you need to fill out the FAFSA.

States and colleges have different deadlines for their aid programs than the federal deadline, even though they all generally rely on the FAFSA to determine eligibility for aid.  While many of the state deadlines for aid for the fall have passed, others are coming up. New Jersey, for example, has a June 1 deadline for the FAFSA to be considered for state aid, and New York and Iowa share the June 30 deadline with the federal government. For Pennsylvania students some college deadlines have passed. However, for first year community college students and others, the deadline isn’t until August 1.  California's deadline for much state aid has passed, but community college students in that state have until Sept. 2 to fill out the FASFA to apply for state aid. Ohio residents have up until Oct. 1 to fill out a FAFSA and be considered for state aid in 2013-14. Information on all state deadlines can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm.

But remember, applying for financial aid is just the first step in making a plan for funding a return to college.  There are many other ways that lifelong learners can save on college costs.  Transferring in previous credits or getting credit for life experience are among the top ways adult students can use their past to advance their education.  Spending time filling out the FAFSA, however, is another important step that shouldn’t be skipped.

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commented 2013-12-28 14:36:58 -0500 · Flag
Thank you