THE FASA IS COMPLETED, NOW WHAT?
Although you could not submit the FAFSA form before January 1, it should be submitted as soon after that date as possible. It is important to keep in mind that the money is dispersed as the applications are approved. After the FAFSA is processed you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR). This form includes: information you reported on the FAFSA, an opportunity to make corrections, and your Expected Family Contribution. Be sure to review this form since colleges use it and the FAFSA to determine your financial need. It is always a good idea to check with the colleges' financial aid counselors to make sure that they have received all of your financial information. This contact is also an opportunity to begin a relationship with the person who will be instrumental in deciding the amount and make-up of your financial package.
In addition to completing the FAFSA now is the time to be investigating private and institutional aid. Local and national organizations, churches, civic clubs, unions, ethnic groups, etc sponsor private scholarships. The competition for these scholarships is usually based on one or a combination of academic achievement, a talent or skill, community service, leadership, extra-curricular activities, or membership in an organization. Many times the application will require an essay and/or an interview.
Some guidelines are: apply only to those for which you are eligible, keep in mind the goals of the sponsoring organization, include your personal/academic/career goals in your essay, follow directions, be neat, and meet the deadline. A completed FAFSA form is sometimes required, although many private scholarships are not need based.
Institutional awards are those given by the college for students attending that college. For some colleges your application will automatically make you eligible for these awards, but not always. Although some of the institutional scholarships are merit based, there are also some that are need based and therefore it is necessary to have a completed FAFSA on file. Be sure to read the college catalogues to determine the forms required or call the financial officer of the college. The Career Center has an extensive list of available scholarships along with applications for many of them.
Special note: be aware of scams. The Federal Trade Commission warns that many scholarship-search services engage in fraudulent, deceptive or unfair business practices. The general rule is if a fee is charged; do not use the service.
College Planning Consultants