Financial Aid

Essential Financial Aid Information

Financial aid packages are designed to bridge the education gap by offering financial support to students from economically challenged backgrounds. The objective is to empower students from the poorest families to attain a quality education, providing them with the means to transform their family's destiny.

Options for Financial Support

When people think of financial aid programs, they typically think of colleges providing full-ride academic scholarships to gifted students in need. While these scholarships are available, there are numerous other types of financial aid programs, such as:

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Awarded on need basis

Don’t require repayment


Awarded for merit

Don’t require repayment

Subsidized Loans
Do require repayment

Based on need

Based on need

Work is required

Various financial aid products may require students to register for a specific credit load per term or accomplish weekly tasks. Conversely, other options may involve partial repayment. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of each product's particulars is crucial to adhere to requirements and prevent financial penalties.

While the majority of student aid is supplied by the federal government, there are alternative entities that play a role in offering financial assistance.

Level of received aid

While students may harbor curiosity about the availability and mechanisms of aid programs, their primary inquiry often pertains to the anticipated monetary assistance. Although the answer varies based on individual circumstances, there are statistical data points that can offer some clarity on this matter.

Schools have the potential to provide financial aid too, as evidenced by a study conducted by U.S. News and World Report on grants for law schools, which highlights substantial variations in award amounts based on the student's school of choice.

The geographical location of the student, such as their state of residence, can greatly affect the amount of financial aid available, as evidenced by statistics from the Brookings Institute.

Recognizing the Disparity

Financial aid undoubtedly facilitates students in accessing the education they desire and require, but it is not uncommon for these programs to exhibit a significant gap. In simpler terms, students frequently resort to unsubsidized or private loans, even when they are receiving financial aid.

The depicted graphic makes it evident that students who are granted financial aid tend to borrow even more than their peers who do not receive aid. This can be attributed to the greater financial needs of these students, driving them to seek multiple funding sources to meet their financial obligations.

Obtaining the Highest Possible Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) acts as the primary determinant for most sources of financial aid, evaluating students' financial need and eligibility. As the new year arrives, completing this form takes precedence for almost all students; however, a revealing chart from the U.S. Department of Education exposes the regrettable tendency of certain individuals to delay their preparations.

One Third

One-third of students fill out a FAFSA in the first quarter

Three Fifths

Three-fifths of applications are complete by the second quarter

Five Sixths

Five-sixths are complete by the end of the third quarter

Coping with setbacks

When faced with financial aid packages that do not fully cover anticipated expenses, families can take certain measures to address the situation, including seeking additional funding sources or scholarships, negotiating with the college or university for a more suitable package, considering part-time employment or work-study opportunities, exploring private loan options, and making appropriate adjustments to the student's budget.

  • Schedule a meeting with the financial aid officer, and bring all pertinent financial documents to that meeting.
  • Be polite, but firm, about the family’s need for additional aid.
  • Show documentation from other schools, if the student’s been provided a more generous financial package at a different institution.
  • Follow up the meeting with an email message, reiterating key points.
  • Fill out formal appeal paperwork, if applicable.

Although smaller schools may lack the financial capacity to compete, pursuing diplomatic discussions can lead to substantial gains, as larger schools might be willing to engage in negotiations and offer favorable financial arrangements.


How to qualify for student financial aid?
Eligibility for student financial aid is determined by the presence of a significant financial need, as indicated by your financial information. Higher levels of need result in larger financial aid awards, while lower levels receive a corresponding amount. Additionally, meeting requirements such as being a legal U.S. citizen with a valid SSN, no loan defaults, and a minimum high school education are necessary.

Types of financial aid: An overview.
Students have access to various financial aid programs such as federal, institutional, and private sources. Federal aid, with its favorable interest rates and lenient terms, is highly sought after. Institutional aid is primarily awarded based on exceptional academic performance or significant financial need. Private aid programs often have stricter requirements and higher interest rates. Students are encouraged to maximize federal aid before considering alternative options.

Best time to file aid forms?
The ideal approach is to file the FAFSA shortly after January 1st in your senior year of high school, while considering an early submission for the PROFILE.

If you anticipate qualifying for need-based financial aid, it is vital to submit your application by March 1st. This deadline is commonly used by states and colleges to assess eligibility for state and campus-based aid. Failing to meet this cutoff may render you ineligible for these types of aid, irrespective of your level of need. Make sure not to overlook this deadline.

Can I fill out financial aid form without finalized taxes?
File early by making a reasonable estimate from your previous year's tax return to secure your place in the financial aid line. You can update the form with more precise details later without losing your spot, so there's no disadvantage in filing early.

Optimal choice: Electronic or regular mail filing?
We strongly encourage electronic filing for the FAFSA and require it for the CSS/PROFILE form. Electronic submission is faster, more efficient, and simplifies processing for colleges. If you opt for regular mail, make a photocopy of the form and obtain a Certificate of Mailing at the post office to verify the date of submission. Avoid using Certified or Registered Mail or any service that requires a recipient's signature.

IDOC sent me something. What's inside?
The utilization of IDOC is increasing among colleges as it examines tax return data to primarily assess actual cash flow, identifying potential "phantom losses" on the tax form while discounting factors such as depreciation and carryover losses from stock sales and other transactions.

How does ownership affect aid?
If you opt for a PROFILE submission, you'll be required to fill out a Business/Farm supplement resembling a multi-year Schedule C from your 1040, in addition to the information included in the FAFSA.

Should there be a discrepancy between your current year's income and the one reported on the financial aid forms, consider updating the information to reflect the expected change.
If there is an increase in your current income, it is advisable to wait until the end of the calendar year before reporting it on the subsequent FAFSA and PROFILE. On the other hand, if your income decreases, get in touch with the financial aid office of the college once the student is admitted to discuss the revised, lower income and seek guidance regarding the appeal process.


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