Important Things to Know about Financial Aid

Important Things to Know about Financial Aid for College Student Athletes
 
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money that can help pay for college.  Some aid needs to be paid back or earned, and some aid is a gift.  Main sources; Federal government, State governments, Colleges and universities, and Private organizations
Assess Your Financial Situation
Make an honest appraisal of you and your family’s finances verses what it will cost to go to each of the colleges you want to attend.  What can your family afford to reasonably pay to help you through college?  Are there student work programs or RA (resident assistant) programs available at your choices of colleges?  How much of your housing and tuition needs to be covered by loans and or scholarships?

Find Scholarship Opportunities That You Qualify For
There are a multitude of local scholarship opportunities available from your local community organizations and service clubs. (Rotary - Nonprofit fundraisers in your area) Keep your eye out for these and make sure to apply for them. Ask your counselors for a list of state organizations and foundations in your areas of interest. Colleges and universities also have lists of available scholarships for incoming freshman as well. For athletics ask each college athletic department specifically what they offer.  Websites such as sholarships.com can help you locate opportunities.

See if You Qualify for Needs Based Aid
Scholarships are merit based on your academic and athletic accomplishments.  Needs based financial aid is based on you and your families’ ability to pay and your income level. You may qualify for needs based aid which brings us to our #4 important things to take care of.

Complete the FAFSA 
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used for determining what needs based aid programs that you are eligible for. Depending on your family’s income you may qualify for aid consisting of grants or low interest loans. If you’re attending a private college they will likely have a supplemental program.  Once you have completed the FASFA, you should apply for these types of aid; financial aid at the college you are applying to, and private scholarships you are eligible for.

Grants, Work Study, Loan and Needs Based Aid
Needs based aids are usually divided into these three categories:  (1) Grants, which are usually awarded based on financial need and do not require repayment; (2) work-study, which provide part-time employment to students to help with expenses for working on campus facilities or as student teachers aids ,etc.;  (3) and Federal loans which are based on need and will require repayment once you have graduated.
Apply for Private loan, a last resort
An option if your financial aid package has not provided your actual needs.  These loans can help cover additional expenses but have a higher interest rate.  It is best to exhaust all other resources before proceeding with this option.
 
 
 
 
Colleges want to help
It is important to establish a relationship with the financial aid office of the university (or universities) of interest.  A majority of universities are attempting to accommodate numerous financial aid situations.  .  In most cases, universities will post financial information on line.  Having a relationship with the financial office, they will assist you answering and/or directing you through the proper channels, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Deadlines
Applications have deadlines, be aware of these.  Do not miss out because of poor record keeping.  FASFA is not accepted until January 1 prior to enrolling, however you’re the basics can be taken care prior to that date.  Being organized makes the process much simpler.
Be Patient
If you are not completely satisfied with your financial aid package and you have established a relationship with the financial aid office, contact them and ask for additional help; what other options are available?  Some schools will constantly adjust the financial aid packages on a student by student situation; do not be afraid to ask for assistance.
 
Don’t base your decision on finances alone
For the student athlete; the only full ride scholarships offered occur in Division I football and basketball.  Therefore, a majority of student athletes must use the financial aid resources that are available in an attempt to reach that full funding (or a close as possible).  Is it simple? No.  Is it possible? Yes. Does it take work? Yes, but it can be accomplished.