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Six Things the Financial Aid Office Wants You to Know

You have been accepted to college; now you wonder, how are you going to pay for it? Figuring out financial aid for college can be an intimidating process but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six things that the college financial aid office wants you to know to help you along the way.

 1) FAFSA

Make sure you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out this form is the first step in receiving and finding out what student aid you are eligible to receive. The best part is this is an easy online form to fill out. Make sure you are aware of the deadlines that your FAFSA needs to be submitted. Each year it should be submitted by July 1 but if you don’t remember the date they are broken down on the website as well.

2) Remember your FSA ID

What is an FSA ID?! Acronyms can be confusing so what is an FSA ID and why do you need to remember it? FSA ID is your Financial Student Aid identification. A big tip from the ECC and MCC financial aid offices is to remember what your ID is. This is something you will pick and must remember and be able to use for financial aid purposes. Do you have a hard time remember your ID and usernames? There are so many you have to have for everything in today’s world. Write it down. Put it somewhere you will remember and can easily find.

This will give you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.

3) Research scholarships

Don’t think that there is just one kind of scholarship you can apply to receive. There are scholarships that are available through the college you are planning to attend, your community, high school and even hobbies or interests that you may have that may have funding available. (There may even be a few random scholarships out there with your name on them!) Make sure to take time to research the different funding available for you. There are lots of resources available if you take the time to look.

4) The more you know the less you’ll owe

You need to understand what the cost of your education will be in addition to the other things that are happening in your everyday life. GradReady is a great resource that will help you figure out what your tuition costs will be in addition to how to budget and pay your bills outside of your education. This resource can help you find funding options as well as help with money management and financing. Make sure you stay on top of your finances.

5) Consider work-study

Work-study is a great way to gain work experience to build your resume, create connections at the college you are attending as well as earn extra income. There are two types of work-study. Federal work-study is granted only for those that have a need but there is institutional work-study as well. Institutional work-study can be granted to those that qualify and are chosen for positions on campus. When filling out your FAFSA there is an option to check that you are interested in work-study. At Ellsworth Community College and Marshalltown Community College students will be contacted if they have been selected for an interview and all communication for work-study through the human resources office is finalized (?) not sure how to reword this?.

Something to remember is that if you are selected for work-study, this will not influence if you receive grants or scholarships. This is money that will be awarded on top of those for the work that you complete.

6) Keep track of your financial aid

ECC and MCC make it easy to keep track of all of your financial deadlines, where you are in the process of receiving financial aid and what you may need to do to continue the process. Don’t let the process stop or falter because you have forgotten to submit documents. Make sure to check in on the Financial Aid Award System on a regular basis.

Financial aid doesn’t have to be a scary or difficult process. Make sure to use these six tips to help you along and stay on top of the deadlines you need to receive funding for your education. If you are still concerned or unsure of what you need to do for financial assistance make sure to contact the ECC and MCC financial aid offices.

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