You’ve got your prospective colleges all lined up, and you’re good to go. Almost. You must still get your financial aid together. You know you must fill out and submit a FAFSA, but you’re wondering if there are any steps you can take to maximize how much help you can get. Well, you’re in luck, because here’s how to get the most financial aid possible.
What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the official government form you use to get funds from the federal and state governments, in addition to most schools.
But what you may not know is that there are steps you can take regarding FAFSA that can optimize how much and what kind of aid you receive. The following is what you can do to make the most of FAFSA.
Get Your Application in ASAP
If you submit the FAFSA in October, you stand to get more than twice as much grant assistance as students who submit their form later – on average. You want to avoid missing deadlines for aid from the state and your school.
Try to Minimize Income from the Prior-Prior Calendar Year
The FAFSA runs your financial numbers based on info from the previous calendar year – aka the “base” year. For instance, the year 2019 was the base year for the 2021-2022 FAFSA that students began completing on Oct. 1, 2020.
So, you need to strategically plan when you, say, sell stocks or bonds or other investments. You also might want to make some timely maneuvers regarding capital gains and losses. And if you don’t have to take retirement plan payouts during the base year, don’t.
Try for State Grants or Scholarships
Sure, you can likely get some federal student aid through the FAFSA, but you may be able to find grants or scholarships that you don’t have to pay back, especially if you’ve been residing in the same state for more than five years. In fact, students who don’t qualify for federal aid may be able to get assistance from their state grant agency.
And if you still aren’t there yet, you may have to turn to private loans, which the servicer Juno can help with, as well as student loan refinance in the future. What is refinancing, you ask? It’s when you get a new loan, and with a better rate, to pay off your current loans, which also makes repayments easier to handle.
You Can Always Appeal
It won’t hurt you to appeal what’s in your aid package. After all, colleges earmark about 20 percent of their funds for those who appeal what’s in their award letter. You also have additional leverage in that schools do want all accepted students to ultimately attend.
What you should do is contact the financial aid office — in person is better – so that you can talk over your financial situation. Just be prepared to go into detail about what’s going on. Perhaps there’s been a job loss or death in the family, or you’ve been affected by a flood or some natural disaster.
Now that you know how to get the most financial aid possible, you’re well on your way to having all the funds you need to take care of your tuition, housing, and other expenses related to you getting your education. And if for some reason you still fall short on the government front, you can always join Juno to get the best private loan rates possible.