Fewer colleges offer free tuition
Cooper Union announced it will end its tuition–free policy and start charging tuition to those who can afford it. This leaves a handful of tuition-free colleges including three in the New York area. Only one of these is a private institution and the two federal service academies come with strings attached.
Read on for the list:
twitter influence: Photo by mil8 Marc Levin www.flickr.com
Social media can help parents of the college-bound. Twitter, for instance, provides a wide selection of valuable resources. While students are often warned about how misuse of social media can harm their college and job prospects, savvy parents can explore and benefit from this new virtual frontier.
With short and snappy posts, Twitter users get their point across in 140 characters or less. It’s a great tool for uber-busy parents with little spare time. Tweets can be read on smart phones while standing in line at the market, in a waiting room or during T.V. commercials. Since Twitter is socially interactive, parents can follow a favorite Tweeter, comment and ask a question.
Here are 7 cool ways Twitter helps parents of the college-bound:
||Help is on the way.
||College Goal Sunday helps the college-bound file FAFSA for financial aid.
Attention college-bound: If you need help to fill out your FAFSA for financial aid to help pay for college, College Goal Sunday is coming to your area. The national event is staffed with financial aid volunteers ready to answer your questions and help you complete and submit your 2012-13 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Under FAFSA, colleges award eligible students federal grants, student loans and a job through the Federal Work-Study program. States may require FAFSA before students can submit an application for their state financial aid program. Colleges can use other forms or just use FAFSA to determine awards from their own institutional funds. Check with your state and college for FAFSA filing deadlines.
College Goal Sunday is held in 40 states and the District of Columbia. It started in Indiana to help students and families complete financial aid forms, focusing on low-income, first-generation families.
Applicants will need to bring some important information to complete their FAFSA:
- Social Security Number for yourself, and parents if providing parent info
- Driver’s license, if any
- Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- W-2 forms
- 2011 federal tax returns for yourself (and spouse if married), and parents if providing parent info
- Records of 2011 untaxed income including Social Security benefits, welfare benefits, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), veteran benefits for yourself, and parents if providing parent info
- Bank statements
- Current business and investment mortgage info, business and farm records, stock and bond investment records, for yourself, and parents if providing parent info
- FAFSA PIN to use as an electronic signature for yourself, and parents if providing parent info. Apply for one in advance at the U.S. Department of Education PIN Web site.
You can estimate how much financial aid you may receive and your expected family contribution (EFC) to college costs at FAFSA4caster.
To preview the types of questions you will be asked, go to the FAFSA on the WebWorksheet or look at the paper FAFSA
Gather your documents necessary to complete the FAFSA and mark your calendar to attend College Goal Sunday.
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If you need money to pay for college, file your FAFSA yourself or with help.
||FAFSA help was available on a Department of Education twitter chat.
Financial aid met social media yesterday as applicants entered their tweet questions in 140 characters or less using #AskFAFSA.
Martha Kanter, the Under Secretary of Education, hosted an hour-long twitter chat about the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and tweeted the answers.
Here are some of her tweet highlights:
- There’s NO income cut-off for federal student aid. Everyone should fill out the FAFSA.
- You can submit a FAFSA before you file your taxes. Select “will file” then use income estimates & correct your FAFSA later.
- To access your SAR (Student Aid Report) after submitting your FAFSA, login, click View Processed Information & enter your PIN. More details.
- For information about your state’s financial aid program, check your state’s website
- In order to receive federal student aid you must be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen. But you should check with your school’s #financialaid office. They can help you explore your options. But you should check with your school’s #financialaid office. They can help you explore your options.
- If the student answers no to all questions here she’s a dependent student & must provide parent info.
- Students should file FAFSA every year they want aid because you never know how your circumstances might change or what new financial aid might become available.
- Federal Pell Grant eligibility is based on many things: income, cost of attendance @ your school & more.
- The FAFSA is available in Spanish.
- Grandparents are not considered parents on the FAFSA unless they have legally adopted you.
- The IRS data retrieval will be available Feb. 1. Change “will file” to “already completed” in your FAFSA.
- Your answer to the marital status question should reflect your marital status at the time you sign the FAFSA.
- Federal student aid can be used to cover summer tuition if you have remaining eligibility for the academic year.
- If you have questions along the way, the FAFSA’s Help section has a lot of great info.
The twitter chat also gave Under Sec. of Ed. Kanter ideas for future consideration such as creating a FAFSA video tutorial in Spanish and adding a FAQ section for the IRS Data Retireval tool.
It also provided an opportunity to give info about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
When should students file FAFSA? File FAFSA ASAP
Why students should file FAFSA? 15 FAFSA FACTS
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Who said social media is impersonal? What a wonderful opportunity to get info directly from Under Sec. of Ed. Kanter. Too bad not all questions were answered but lucky tweeps got their FAFSA help on Twitter.
||It’s a win-win situation.
||Students can gain more than $$$ when they apply for college scholarships.
To pay the skyrocketing college bill, students can apply for financial aid. However, the exercise of applying for outside scholarships can bring unexpected rewards besides the chance to win money.
Private outside scholarships are sponsored by businesses, fraternal organizations, employers, high schools, groups and individuals.
Here are 4 ways, besides winning the $$$, applying for scholarships can help students:
- Vested interest When students win a scholarship, their work contributes to paying for college. Students who are committed to their education are motivated to achieve-especially if they have a financial stake in the process.
- Hone skills Research, following directions, time management and writing are valuable skills college students need to succeed. To be eligible to win scholarships, students have to find them, fill out applications correctly, fulfill scholarship requirements and meet deadlines.
- Competitive spirit Scholarships are usually contests. Students have an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and sportsmanship.
- Network Contacts are important. Keeping a list of connections can come in handy.
Read more: Scholarships and Grants, POCSmom’s College Prep Insights Newsletter
Read for inspiration: Homeless LI Intel semifinalist wins another scholarship
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Students should explore all avenues to help pay for college and include applying for financial aid and searching for outside scholarships. Parents can help students organize and track their applications. There are scholarships for prospective and current college students. Parents and schools can plant the seed of college attainment from an early age so students can nurture the dream and be ready to apply for scholarships.
||As I expected.
||The federal government calculates the student’s expected family contribution to college costs.
Do you know what your EFC is? Without it, colleges can’t determine eligibility for many financial aid programs.
What is EFC
EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. That’s the number the federal government calculates by applying a formula to the data submitted by a student on his FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
A student’s EFC is a measure of his family’s financial strength. The higher the number, the more the family can afford to contribute to college costs.
Why EFC is important
Colleges use the EFC to determine financial aid awards based on financial need. EFC is subtracted from the college’s cost of attendance (COA). The resulting number is the student’s financial need. As college costs rise, COA and EFC concern families at all income levels.
Many colleges do not meet 100% of student need. Colleges may include all forms of financial aid as meeting need. That means student loans that must be paid back or a job from the Federal Work-Study program may be awarded along with free money grants that do not have to be paid back. Out-of-pocket costs are increased when 100% of need is not met or is met by aid that must be paid back or earned. The more free money students receive, the better the financial aid award.
Some colleges use other formulas based on other financial aid forms to determine eligibility for institutional aid. States also have different formulas for their state financial aid programs. To maximize eligibility, file all forms the college requires and answer any requests for additional info, as early as possible and before deadlines.
Read more: File FAFSA ASAP, What you need to file a FAFSA, Maximizing Financial aid Awards Parts I and II
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Find out your college’s financial aid polices for meeting student need. When admitted, compare financial aid awards carefully to calculate your out-of-pocket costs. Use POCSmom’s charts that also include costs of borrowing. Students can appeal financial aid awards and demonstrate why they are inadequate, given their special financial circumstances that may not be reflected by their EFC.
||Pave the way.
||The college-bound can prepare for financial success.
If you are college-bound, you are going to want to file a FAFSA. After you get your financial aid award, you may even do a happy dance. That’s because filing a FAFSA provides eligible students with grants, loans and a job from the Federal Work-Study program. FAFSA is a pre-requisite for state financial aid programs, many colleges require it for institutional awards and some private outside scholarships want it to verify need.
There are 3 major reasons why families dread filing FAFSA:
- It’s complicated Recent changes make filling the FAFSA much easier. If you file online like most do, there are helpful tips and pop-up explanations. There’s a plethora of free info in libraries and online but consider the source before relying on any advice.
- It’s time consuming Many of the questions are biographical and should be a snap to answer. For the financial questions, having your documents at your finger tips can provide quick access to answers.
- Doubt eligibility Skyrocketing college costs concern families at all income levels and even the affluent can receive financial aid. Some financial aid is based on financial need and some is based on merit (student’s talent- academic, artistic, musical, athletic, leadership abilities). Colleges can give institutional awards to discount their tuition and encourage students they want to attend. However, they may want to see the FAFSA, first.
Now, don’t you want to file your 2012-13 FAFSA? Before you put on your dancing shoes, here’s what you need to get started:
- Social Security number
- driver’s license number (if any)
- 2011 W-2 forms and other records of money earned
- 2011 federal income tax returns (or estimates based on last year’s)
- 2011 untaxed income records
- Business and investment records except for small businesses
- Current bank statements and investment records
- alien registration number (if you are not a U.S.citizen)
- For online filers (see below filing help) a Federal Student Aid PIN
- Dependent students need their parents’ info, too
- Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243 hearing-impaired TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.
- Email the Federal Student Aid Information Center FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov.
- Online filers can get a PIN before or during FAFSA filing to sign and make corrections electronically.
- Use the FAFSA4caster to estimate your eligibility for federal student aid.
- For online filers, there’s a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to preview questions.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is available beginning February 1, 2012 to online filers who have completed their 2011 IRS tax return. They will be able to use FAFSA on the Web to electronically view their tax information and transfer it into the FAFSA.
Read more: File FAFSA ASAP, 10 Reasons not to file a FAFSA, 15 FAFSA FACTS
Get more: Sign up for POCSmom’s free, new for 2012, monthly College Prep Insights newsletter. January issue is all about getting $$$ for college.
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: The best FAFSA prep is previewing the questions before filing your FAFSA.
||Pave the way.
||The college-bound can prepare for financial success.
Attention college-bound: Are your finances prepared for what could be the single most expensive purchase you’ll ever make? A college education can cost more than a car, an around-the-world cruise or a house. What’s your higher education financial plan?
An article from Fox Business came up with a plan for college students called Five Financial Resolutions Every College Student Should Make.
Here’s my 5 financial resolutions every college-bound student should make:
- Become financially literate Take a look at your finances. Review your assets, income and expenses. How much have you saved? Will your family be helping you financially? What are your projected earnings while attending college? Will you work during college breaks? What bills do you have now and during college? Estimate projected college costs including tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.
- Apply for financial aid If you need help to pay for college, ask for it. The federal government offers eligible students free money grants, student loans and a job through the Federal Work-Study program. To apply, file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Then check out your state’s financial aid programs. Ask the colleges on your list if there are college grants or scholarships that require any other application forms. Finish up with a search for outside private scholarships from businesses, employers, fraternal organizations, high schools, groups and individuals.
- Create a budget Based on your finances and college costs, determine how much you can afford to save and borrow. If you plan on grad school, add in those costs, too. Project future income, lifestyle sought and time to get a job. Then live within your means.
- Invest in yourself Think of your position as “student” as a job and earn your education. Go to all classes, do all assignments, keep your grades up and avoid senioritis. If you need extra help, ask your teachers or go for peer tutoring.
- Get your money’s worth Choose your college wisely. Compare financial aid awards carefully, review retention and graduation stats and evaluate programs, activities and college location. If you can, take a collegecation (college visit + family vacay) to learn more about the school, internships and other curricular and extracurricular opportunities. Speak with current students, professors and administrators and check out the local community. Where you attend and what you achieve will position you for life after college.
Read more: 15 FAFSA FACTS and 10 Reasons not to file a FAFSA.
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: When it comes to finances, being prepared is key to financial success.
|| I don’t need this.
||The FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid for eligible students seeking help to pay for college.
There are billions of dollars in federal financial aid available for eligible students to help pay for college if they ask for it but not everyone wants to submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Despite the urgings to apply for aid from government, college and private advisors, there are those that fail to file.
Here are 5 good reasons why not to file a FAFSA:
You can afford all college costs; you don’t want/need more money.
You don’t qualify for free money.
You don’t want a student loan.
Even if offered, you wouldn’t accept a Federal Work/Study job.
Your college awards merit money to students without regard to financial need.
Here are 5 bad reasons why not to file a FAFSA:
6. The FAFSA is too complicated.
You are too busy.
You assume you don’t qualify for need-based aid (but don’t really know).
You want to increase your admission chances (but without aid cannot attend).
Your tax returns aren’t completed yet.
Visit my colleague Suzanne Shaffer (Parents Countdown to College Coach) for 10 Reasons To File a FAFSA. Suzanne is a college prep expert and online college-bound “coach” helping parents navigate the college maze with the proper tools/resources including a FREE parent tips newsletter.
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If you don’t want or need money for college, do not apply for financial aid. If you do want aid, apply as soon as possible because some colleges give out their own funds to the early birds, first. Students may be eligible for funds from their state’s financial aid program but only if they file a FAFSA first. Colleges determine their own formula for distributing institutional funds and some use a need-merit combo requiring a FAFSA. When filing early in January/February, use income estimates and update your FAFSA after your income tax forms are filed. There are billions of dollars of financial aid available. If you don’t ask for financial aid, you better have a good reason not to file a FAFSA.
|| Come to the aid.
|| College prep can help the college-bound get into and pay for college.
Twas the night before New Years and celebrations abound,
And college apps have been filed by the college-bound.
The essays were written and the recommendations sent,
In hopes a college admission offer is meant.
Visions of getting in danced in each student’s head,
While parents voiced other concerns and said,
“Admission is one thing but what of the cost?”
If we can’t pay for college, all will be lost.”
The Feds heard their cries and came to their aid,
With a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
File the FAFSA, the FAFSA, the FAFSA’s the one,
For grants, student loans, and work/study programs.
FAFSA soon is released, January 1st is the day,
Get your records together and be prepared to say,
“We filed the FAFSA early to have piece of mind,
College financial aid awards are what we’ll find.
Read more: POCSmom’s website and 2011 (and soon to come 2012) College Prep DIY Insights about how to form a successful college list, getting into college, college costs, college life and life after college.
POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: As 2011 fades from sight, Happy 2012 to all, and to all a good night!