February is recognized as Financial Aid Awareness Month to help provide crucial information to students and families about access to federal, state, and institutional student aid. Students spend most of their time applying for college, and not enough time preparing for college costs. The financial aid process is the most important part of college preparation. Applying for financial aid can help you avoid a lot of debt by providing you with the options available through your school and the federal government. Most students qualify for scholarships and grants, which can make college a realistic and affordable option. February is also the perfect time to complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if you have not already done so.
FAFSA TIPS 101:
-Have the following documents and information ready when filling out the FAFSA:
ü Your most recent year's tax forms, or end-of-the-year pay stubs
ü Your W-2 forms
ü Records of the most recent year's untaxed income, such as child support and support from agencies such as Social Services, Social Security, and the Veteran Administration. (Do not attach copies of these documents to your FAFSA, they are only for reference when you file.)
ü The student's correct social security number
Save TIME & ENERGY with these 10 HELPFUL TIPS when filling out the FAFSA!
- Do not leave any questions blank. If your answer is zero, then write "0".
- Read and follow instructions carefully, even if you have filled out the FAFSA before, because questions and instructions change.
- If you are a parent with multiple children, fill out a separate FAFSA for each student. Make sure each social security number (SSN) is correct for each child. Incorrect SSNs delay processing.
- If you are a dependent student, ask your parents to help you fill out the FAFSA. Financial aid offices contact the student first so it is important that both you and your parent(s) know the information on the FAFSA.
- Obtain the Federal school code from the school or schools you are interested in attending.
- Double check figures and calculations. 40% of the forms with mistakes are delayed. Mistakes can also limit the amount of aid you receive.
- Do not report the net value of your primary residence. Asset questions are only for secondary and investment properties.
- Both the parent and the student (if applicable) must sign and date the FAFSA.
- Fill out the forms early. This gives you an advantage because campus-based aid is awarded on a first-come first-serve basis.
- Also, the FAFSA must be filed every year. Report any changes in your financial situation to your financial aid administrator because they can affect your eligibility.
Once you receive your FAFSA award amount, it is time to ask yourself some questions. Does this amount cover my full tuition? If not, how much am I left to pay for? How will I re-pay these loans once I have graduated? We want to help you with this stressful thought process!
More than 42 million borrowers nationwide currently have student debt of $100,000 or less. Did you know South Carolina is ranked 19th in the nation for average student debt load? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 1 in 4 borrowers are delinquent or in default on their student loans. Whether you are preparing to go to college, are currently a student with student loans, or you have graduated college and have student loan payments, we are here to guide you.
Our certified counselors assess your budget, loans, employment, and financial goals to determine the best option. We can walk you through submitting applications or contact your student loan servicer. We can help you find the repayment plan that is manageable & works best for you.
- Gain an understanding of your repayment options
- Receive assistance with the application process
- Learn what to do if you are in default on a student loan
- Learn about loan consolidation as an option to better manage your student loans
Student Loan Counseling Session: $60 one-time upfront fee, refundable if unable to work with your student loans.
Call 843.628.3000 email us us to schedule an individual appointment with one of our licensed credit counselors.