April 20, 2016: Financial Aid FAQs

posted Jun 6, 2016, 3:58 PM by Kristin Hannon
Summit Public Schools
College Readiness Newsletter
April 20, 2016

Weekly College Update

Dear Senior Bulldogs, Thunderbirds, Huskies, and Snow Leopards,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting lots of good questions from you all about financial aid. I am so proud to see how carefully and thoughtfully you are considering this information because it’s very important. I am sharing some of the most commonly asked questions this week in hopes of reaching more of you.

This week’s focus is financial aid FAQs.

  • What if I haven’t received my financial aid offer from a college yet?

    • Unfortunately, some of the CSU campuses have been slow processing aid offers this year and lots of students still haven’t gotten their offers. First, check your email and portal to make sure you don’t have any to-do items that are holding up your aid offer from being processed. You can also call the school’s financial aid office to ask when you can expect to receive your aid package. Finally, you can do your best to guess-timate your offer based on what you received from other schools.

  • Can I appeal my financial aid offer for more money?

    • Yes, you can try to appeal if you think your financial aid offer does not reflect your family’s circumstances or ability to pay. Please note that you may not be successful. You are more likely to get consideration on an appeal if something has changed in your circumstances since you filed FAFSA, such as a parent losing a job. First, call the financial aid office to ask about their appeals process. You may need to complete forms or you may need to write a letter. Be specific, professional, and polite.

  • Should I take out loan money for college? How much is too much?

    • It is extremely common to borrow money to pay for part of your college costs. Approximately 70% of graduating college seniors today have loan debt and the average amount is around $30,000. So, it’s good to be open to borrowing, with caution. You don’t want to borrow so much that you have trouble making loan payments once you graduate. Check out this loan repayment calculator tool to estimate what your monthly payments would be for different amounts you might borrow.  

  • Do I have to accept everything in my financial aid offer?

    • No, you don’t. That’s why it’s important to calculate your actual costs and decide what parts of your aid offer to accept and reject. If you’re planning to cut costs by living at home or planning to work during the summer and save some money, you may not have to accept all of the loan money you are offered.

  • Which parts of my financial aid offer should I accept first?

    • Always accept any gift aid-- scholarships and grant money-- first. That is FREE money that you never have to pay back! Next, I recommend accepting work study because you don’t have to pay that money back and working for a few hours a week on campus can be a good way to meet people and get involved. Then, take any subsidized federal loans you were offered. Those loans are better because they don’t accumulate interest while you’re in school. Unsubsidized federal loans would be next because they have a low interest rate. Parent PLUS loans are usually the last thing you should accept because they have a higher interest rate than federal loans.

  • Is there a deadline to accept my financial aid offer?

    • Yes, schools often do require you to accept at least your scholarship and grant money by May 1st, the enrollment deadline. Otherwise, they may offer it to other students. Check with your specific school on their policy.
As always, if you have other questions, feel free to reach out to me atkhannon@summitps.org.
 
Respectfully,


Ms. Hannon
Director of College Readiness
khannon@summitps.org

Upcoming Dates and Deadlines
    
May 1 National College Signing DayDeadline to enroll for most 4 year colleges. 
May 14 UC Analytical Writing Placement ExamCheck your portal and email if you have been admitted to a UC to see if you need to take this placement test. 
   

Dreamers Roadmap: A New App to Help Undocumented Students Find Scholarships

A new app to help undocumented students find scholarship money just launched! You can check it out at http://www.dreamersroadmap.com/
 

Scholarship Opportunities

Frank Merino Award Scholarship
Who can apply: high school seniors with at least 3.0 GPA
Amount of the award: varies
Information/Application: Merino Scholarship Application
Deadline: April 29, 2016

AMVETS National Scholarships
Who can apply: high school seniors who are children or grandchildren of active military or veterans
Amount of the award: $4,000
Information/Application: AMVETS.org
Deadline: April 30, 2016

PFLAG National Scholarship 
Who can apply: high school seniors who identify as LGBT or allies
Amount of the award: varies
Information/Application: PFLAG Scholarship
Deadline: April 30, 2016

Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women
Who can apply: all female students 
Amount of the award: $5,000
Information/Application: Toptal STEM Scholarships
Deadline: 1 winner a month chosen now through November 2016
Changing Education, Changing Lives
www.summitps.org

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