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What the Financial Aid Office Wants You to Know

We get it – college isn’t cheap! Financial aid money is available to help you pay for college. It’s important to know some helpful tips when starting the process and beginning your college education.

Know the types of financial aid available

Make sure you know going into the financial aid process what type of funding you are applying for and potentially receiving. Some aid you will have to pay back, can earn, or if you are able to find it there is some aid that is considered a gift and will not have to be paid back.

Where to start

To qualify for most types of aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. It’s important to do this as soon as possible as aid is often given on a first-come, first-served basis. This application will give you access to several types of funding:

  • Grants and scholarships, which are funds you don’t have to pay back.
  • Work-student jobs: paid, part-time work that’s typically located on campus
  • Loans: this is money you will need to pay back but usually not until after you have graduated

There are also some helpful pitfalls to avoid when filling out your FAFSA.

  • Not Filing Early
  • Not Getting Your FSA ID Before Filling Out the Form
  • Not Using Your FSA ID
  • Not Reading Through the Definitions
  • Listing Only One College
  • Not Signing the Form

Finding the funding

Even though the FAFSA is the best first step there is more you can do to find college funding. Make sure to visit the financial aid offices available at both Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College.

There are also scholarships available through college foundations as well as private organizations in your community. Make sure to do some research and check to see what is available in your hometown. Find the scholarship that fits your education.

Use your calendar

Another tip to remember when getting ready to attend college and find financial aid, make sure you pay attention to dates. You may find the perfect scholarship for you but make sure that you get in all of the information that you need to apply on time. Scholarships set deadlines to make sure that the money is awarded in a timely fashion and if you miss the deadlines you may not be considered.

It’s in the details

Along with deadlines, it’s important to make sure that you read all of the qualifications and specifics of what you need to apply for a scholarship. Some scholarships may ask for recommendations, application letters, essays or more. Make sure you take the time to read through what is necessary to apply for financial aid.

Use your sources

The college financial aid offices are on campus and available to help you, take advantage of that service. If you have questions or are not sure how to fill out an application or the FAFSA make sure to contact them for advice. If you aren’t on campus for classes the financial aid offices is available by phone or email and you can find their information on the college websites.

The Iowa College Aid Commission is a great source to help find scholarships and loans that are available.

Stay up to date

Once you have been accepted to ECC or MCC and filled out your FAFSA online, make sure to stay up to date on what the next steps are and where you are in the process for financial aid. You have 24-7 access to see the whole process and what you need to do to receive funding through the college. You can access this information on the online financial aid award system for ECC and MCC.

College can be an expensive investment but it doesn’t have to be. Help lessen the debt you have after you complete your education by contacting your financial aid office at MCC or ECC today and start the financial aid process.

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