Get the Most College Financial Aid

The FAFSA application may be submitted starting Jan. 1. Applying early improves the chances of receiving aid from as many sources as possible. If you complete the application after January 5, you can print out a FAFSA worksheet, which provides answers to most of the FAFSA questions. Two to four weeks after you submit the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you haven't received it, call 800-4-FED-AID or 800-433-3243 / TTY 800-730-8913. The EFC figure is printed on the front page at the upper right-hand corner. If there are any errors on the SAR, make corrections and mail it back immediately. If you provided your e-mail address on the FAFSA, you will be sent a link to an electronic version of your SAR. Make corrections to the SAR online at FAFSA on the Web.

February 2011

Submit your PROFILE application to meet the priority deadlines in early to mid-February. Applications received by the priority deadline are given the highest consideration.

April 2011

Read aid award letters carefully and be sure to meet deadlines for accepting awards. Most admission decisions and financial aid award letters arrive this month.

Compare financial aid award offers and consider meeting with financial aid staff members if your full need has not been met.

Make your final decision. Mail the enrollment form and deposit check to your top choice before May 1, the typical reply deadline.

Useful Links for College Financial Aid Seekers

FAFSA. Use this site to access a free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

PROFILE. You can download the application form for College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE.

FAFSA PIN. Be sure to apply for a Department of Education PIN to cut down on your FAFSA processing time.

Estimate Your Eligibility. Use this calculator to get a rough estimate of how much financial aid you may qualify for.

Compare Offers. This tool is useful to compare financial aid packages offered to your student.

Council for Opportunity in Education. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities.

Institute for College Access and Success. A nonprofit organization that works to make higher education more available and affordable for people of all backgrounds through supporting nonpartisan research, analysis, and advocacy.

FinAid. The Web site provides free comprehensive information about scholarships and financial aid.

U.S. Department of Education. A source of information, provided free by the government, on preparing for and funding education beyond high school.

Scholarship America. The organization's mission is to mobilize America through scholarships and educational support, making postsecondary education possible for all students.

College Scholarships.org. Students can search numerous scholarship opportunities on the Web site.

FastWeb. This Web site offers a free scholarship matching service.

Student Aid Alliance. An advocacy group pushing for increased funding for federal student aid.

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation supports more than 1,400 college students annually with scholarships totaling $3.4 million.

The United Negro College Fund. This private organization provides operating funds for its 39 member colleges and administers scholarship and internship programs to benefit low- and moderate-income families.

IBRinfo. This nonprofit provides information about the Income-Based Repayment program, through which federal loan repayments are capped to a reasonable percentage of the borrower's income.

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