Get Your Financial Aid Questions Answered

Fill it out, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

For those families who are still wondering how they will be paying for college, The New York Times' Choice Blog has posted Part 1 of a series answering your questions about the Fafsa here.  For those of you still not familiar, Fafsa stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is what all applicants need to submit in order to qualify for financial aid.

One common question is whether there is a particular cutoff of eligibility above which families will not receive aid. According to financial aid expert Mark Krantowitz, there is no cutoff. Rather it depends on various factors including the number of people in your household and how many unusual expenses you may have. In fact, many applicants decide not to apply, mistakenly believing that they would not qualify: "More than 1.7 million students failed to file the Fafsa in 2007-8 because they incorrectly believed themselves ineligible for financial aid. More than a third would have qualified for the federal Pell Grant, and about half of these students would have qualified for a full Pell Grant."

To see more answers to common financial aid questions, click here.

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Don’t Miss Applying for Aid

How will you pay for college?

Now that we’re in January, and many of you have finished your applications, more questions may be popping up regarding paying for college. Here are a few frequently asked questions that you may find helpful.

1. What is the difference between loans, grants, and scholarships?

Grants and scholarship are free monetary awards and do not need to be paid back. Grants may be offered without service requirements like Pell Grants, or with research requirements as is often the case of graduate students. Scholarships can be awarded on various criteria including merit, talent, major, or ethnicity. Loans must be repaid, with interest.

2. I probably won’t qualify for financial aid. Should I apply anyway?

Yes. It’s free to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, so even though you don’t think you’ll receive aid, it’s worth trying. You may also qualify for other sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need.

3. Do I need to be admitted to a particular university before I can apply for aid?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. However, to receive the funds, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.

For more information on filling out the FAFSA, check out these questions and answers addressed by expert Mark Kantrowitz in the NY Times Choice blog.

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