Answers to college financial aid questions
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Researching and applying for financial aid can be a daunting task. There are some questions I am asked frequently by people seeking financial assistance to attend college.
Here are my top four:
When is the deadline to apply?
Each college and university sets a priority deadline for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the first step in determining how much you might quality to receive in federal grants or loans, work study or scholarships.
Colorado Mountain College’s priority deadline, for example, is March 31.
Students may submit an application after this date; however, keep in mind that colleges will start making awards right after their priority deadlines. When June or July rolls around, there might not be as much money available to be awarded.
You’re most likely to get the amount you’re eligible for if you submit by the college’s priority deadline.
The deadline to apply for local or college-sponsored scholarships varies. Some deadlines are as early as this month; CMC Foundation scholarships have an application deadline of March 15.
Do I have to file my taxes before I can apply for FAFSA?
It is possible to fill out the FAFSA before you file taxes and use an estimate. However, the best way is to file your taxes first and then apply for FAFSA. Doing so allows you to utilize the IRS’s automatic data retrieval tool. This tool pulls the required tax information from the IRS directly onto your online FAFSA application, saving you time and ensuring accuracy.
How do I get work study?
Work study is in demand like never before. Work-study jobs are sometimes the only jobs students can get, given that other part-time work in this economy is snatched up fast.
If you want a work-study job, you must indicate your interest on the FAFSA. Work-study awards are subject to the availability of funding and eligibility. After filing your FAFSA, follow up with your college’s or university’s financial aid office to check on your status.
How do I find scholarships?
Scholarships are available both locally and through the college you’ll attend. If you’re a graduating senior, the best resource for finding local scholarships is through your high school counselor. Application deadlines are quickly approaching.
Most colleges describe all their scholarships in a handbook or online. The CMC Foundation itself awards more than 70 every year. You can view those on our website, http://www.coloradomtn.edu.
The more scholarships you can apply for, the better. But do treat every application individually; avoid reusing one essay over and over again. Committees that award dollars look for candidates who specifically address the essay questions they ask.
When it comes to financial aid, the rules of thumb are to apply early and follow up with the college’s financial aid office. The earlier you can find out what your awards are for each college you are considering, the earlier you can make a fully informed decision on which college to attend.
Natalie Torres is the financial aid specialist at Colorado Mountain College in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley. She can be reached at 947-8277.
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