College Financial Aid and Scholarships
College financial aid is usually awarded in a "package," which can consist of one or all of the following components: a scholarship or grant (usually directly from the university) which does not need to be repaid, a loan (usually from the federal government), and an on-campus job. Distribution is often based on financial need. Most financial assistance is administered through the financial aid office of individual colleges. Therefore, care should be taken to make application for financial aid at each of the colleges to which the student applies.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Federal government will process this form free of charge. Almost every college or university requires this form. It asks families to supply information about their income and assets and is most easily filled out using a completed tax return (questions will refer to specific lines of the 1040 or 1040A). The FAFSA will be available October 1st of the senior year and may be filed electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The deadline for submission is March 2nd.
College Board's Profile Form
Most private colleges and universities require more information than the FAFSA can provide. Therefore, many of these schools will ask the financial aid applicant to complete the CSS PROFILE. The CSS PROFILE consists of an initial registration form and should be completed in the fall of the senior year, as soon as the student's list of colleges to which he or she will apply is finalized. The College Board will process the initial CSS PROFILE registration form and will return to the family forms that have been customized to gather the information required by each of the schools listed on the initial form. Since the College Board is gathering this information on behalf of the participating schools, there is a processing fee of $25.00 for the first report and $16.00 for each additional report.
Because some colleges objected to the high fees associated with the CSS PROFILE form, they choose to request additional information using a form they developed in-house. Be aware, however, a few colleges require the FAFSA, the CSS PROFILE, and their own institutional form! Because colleges often differ in their requirements for students to receive financial aid, students should contact the financial aid office at the schools they wish to attend to determine which forms are necessary and to request these forms be forwarded to them.
Financial Aid Resources
Christian Connector is a free scholarship resource program that lets you search for different types of scholarships provided by participating Christian colleges.
College Board is the best authority on CSS Profile and the SAT. College Board has an excellent database with the ability to search for colleges based on up to six criteria, monthly calendar for students and parents, tips for getting the most of your high school experience, a list of loan sources with descriptions, a financial aid calculators for students and parents, over 300 applications available online, testing information, essay critiquing services, and lists of available publications.
FastWeb is an excellent private scholarship and grant search vehicle as students create a user ID and profile and request scholarship applications electronically. This site also provides a college search function.
Finaid is the "ultimate" guide to financial aid resources, providing links to any and all financial aid sites. It is easily navigated and sorted into list of financial aid topics.
Going Merry is a scholarship website that helps students connect to scholarships that are right for them.
Good Call offers information about paying for college using scholarships, avoiding student debt, and college saving plans, as well as links to scholarships.
When Berean is contacted about scholarships, especially by local organizations, they are entered into Naviance.
On Raise.me students enter their achievements and are awarded scholarships from specific colleges.
This is a good source of information regarding ROTC scholarships, as self-described by each branch of the military.
Navy and Marines: www.nrotc.navy.mil
Air Force: www.afrotc.com
Sallie Mae provides financial aid calculators, describes how to find, compare and manage loans, gives information on loans as part of financial aid packages, and answers frequently asked questions.
Scholarship Expert provides a scholarship match program to help students quickly find scholarships that are applicable to them.
Scholarship Informer provides information, tools, and resources to help students find scholarships.
As well as scholarships, Smart Scholar provides a great guide to student loan resources.
Student Scholarships offers information about scholarships, majors, careers, and salaries.
The U.S. Department of Education offers a good overview of available federal financial aid.
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