How Students Can Apply For Financial Aid

How Students Can Apply for Financial Aid

Now that you have nailed down the college of your choice it is time to apply for financial aid. Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to applying for financial aid. If you are diligent in researching the various forms of financial help, then you can be sure to get some form of aid to help you through your education. You will be able to secure some form of aid in the form of disbursements from the government, as grants, loans, scholarships or even fee waivers.

Just like the research that led you to the college of your choice, research will lead you again to financial aid as well. Time spent will be cash earned.

Almost all the financial aid applications and scholarships will have a different deadline for submission of the financial aid or scholarship application. Applications are mostly available a year before the deadline.

Financial aid
Financial aid can be received from many sources:

  • Federal government,
    • FAFSA- Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
    •  Pell Grant – does not have to be repaid unless the student withdraws from the class before completion.
    • Work-study programs – helps student pay for the college or school education.
    • Loans – have to repaid with interest
  •   State government– Check out the Grant Agency in your state here. Here is an example of all the financial aid information links available for Nursing in California.
  • Non-profit organizations like Health Professions Education Foundation.
  • Private organizations

Board of Governor (BOG) waiver

In California, you can be eligible for California Board of Governor Fee waiver,

  • If you are a resident
  • If you are going to attend community college
  • If you meet the low income requirement for your household
  • If you fill an application for the BOG waiver and or the FAFSA

The BOG provides waiver for fees for the academic year and summer term in a community college.

Student Loans

Student Loans are available as loans from the government as well as private loans from qualifying lenders.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are loans from the government with interest rates as low as 3.4% for undergraduates. The lender is the US Department of Education. More information is available at Direct Loans  for direct loans from the government.
  • Private student loans are available from banks such as Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, US Bank to name a few with repayment starting six months after date of graduation. These loans will have a greater interest rate.

Types of Scholarships

There are various forms of scholarships that students can make use of:

  • School scholarships. Every school will have a financial aid office both on campus and online.
  • Professional organizations scholarship such as institutions affiliated with the course of study.
  • Ambassadorial scholarships – Rotary Foundation International scholarship which is available for a year of study abroad in a foreign country for undergraduate or graduate students. The student will receive $24,000. In return, the student will be required to make speeches at Rotary Clubs in the area and also complete a community service project.
  •  Nursing scholarships are available from numerous sources for enthusiastic nursing aspirants.
  • Scholarship is also available based on ethnicity sponsored by communities of specific ethnic origins for encouraging success in their community. For example The Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Writing scholarship essays

Writing a winning scholarship essay is the key to winning a scholarship. Here are some valuable tips to steer you to a positive outcome.

  • Prepare a clear outline for your essay
  • Use proper grammar
  • Write the essay to cater to the requirements and purpose of the scholarship
  • Preserve originality and answer the questions thoroughly.
  • Get as many opinions about your essay as possible.
  • Reuse your essays with caution and avoid sending out general essays for all scholarships.

How to fill up the FAFSA application?

The Federal Student Aid is available by filling out the FAFSA. This is a very easy to fill application which takes you through the process step by step.

It is advisable to file your tax return before you start the application as you have to enter information regarding your tax.

Before you start filling the application, make sure you have all records of your assets and records needed to calculate the income and expense for you and/or your parents. After you have made the calculations, it is a good idea to get the school codes for the schools that you are considering to join.

You will be asked for a PIN as well which can be requested here. Now that you have everything you need by your side, you are ready to start filling out the FAFSA.

Here are some guidelines for filling the FAFSA. There are about a 100 questions. Please take your time and fill them carefully as incomplete answers will result in the application being returned which will cause further delay in receiving the aid.

  • 1-17 covers student basic details such as name, social security, date of birth etc.
  • 18-31 is mostly questions about the background of the student.
  • 32-47 are about income and assets. Do not leave questions unanswered as the application can be returned with a request for further information. If a question in this section does not apply to you enter ‘0’.
  • 48-54 will require proof about whether the student is a dependent or an independent. You are an independent student if you are one of the following:
    • Married
    • Greater than 24 years
    • Have other dependents other than your spouse such as your parents.
    • Is an orphan or was the ward of the court before the age of 18 years.
    • A graduate or professional student.
    • Be a veteran of the US Armed Forces.
  • 55-69 deals with details of your parent’s information.
  • 70-72 is about your parent’s tax filing status and will allow them to efile their tax return for free before you start the application.
  • 73-83 covers the parental income and taxes.
  • 84-85 independent students will have to answer these questions with regard to members at home and those who will be enrolled in college.
  • 86-97 deals with information about all the colleges that you might be considering. You have to fill the FAFSA only once and the information will be sent to all the colleges that you designate in these answers. You will need the school codes for each school before answering these questions.
  • As a final step, students and parents have to sign as an affirmation of the integrity of the information provided.

Be careful of scams. As a general rule if the website or organization requires you to pay a certain fee for applying for the financial aid, then be wary. Applying for the federal financial aid is absolutely free and you should not be asked to pay any sort of application fee.

Article written and published by Sun Maag. Visit for college & university information and to find online & campus schools.