Financial Aid & Scholarship$

  • Financial Aid & ScholarshipsThe cost of attending college covered by some combination of financial aid and students and their families includes a number of elements. Colleges and universities estimate the cost of attending their institution. For comparative college cost information please refer to the COLLEGE TUITION COMPARE-BLOG at the following link:  http://blog.collegetuitioncompare.com/  
     
    Types of Financial Aid Programs for Students:

    Take a look at how simple financial aid can be. To apply for many types of financial aid (federal and state) you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each year you are requesting aid. For a more comprehensive list of major financial aid programs in California, click here:

    • Grants. Think of a grant as the ultimate graduation gift, because you don't have to pay it back.
    • Pell Grants (federal aid) are awarded to low-income students and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) are for low-income students with exceptional financial need.
    • Cal Grants (state aid) are free money guaranteed to every high school senior that applies on time and meets income, eligibility, and GPA requirements. See below for more information about Cal Grants.
    • Work-Study. Work at a part-time job that may help you with a career, and use the earnings to help finance your education.
    • Scholarships. Free money for college, usually based on your areas of study or merit, such as good grades, high test scores, athletic, musical or other special talents, community service and sometimes financial need.
    • Loans. Federal loans are low-interest loans that come in all shapes and sizes.
    • Perkins Loans are administered by the college and are for students with exceptional financial need.
    • Subsidized Stafford Loans are available to students who meet financial requirements and are attending school at least half-time. With this loan, the government pays the interest on when you get the loan money until up to six months after you leave school. An unsubsidized Stafford Loan is available to any student regardless of financial need, but the student pays the interest.
    • PLUS Loans are available for the parents of students attending college.

     
    Applying for Financial Aid (the FAFSA) - What you need to do
     
    If there is any chance you might need money for college you should apply for financial aid. It costs nothing to apply. To apply for federal and state financial aid, you'll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You'll find it on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov and on paper, in both English and Spanish. Many colleges also use the FAFSA to award their own grants and scholarships. The FAFSA asks for information about you, your family, your finances and your college plans. Filing online is the fastest way to file. The online FAFSA also automatically catches common errors before you finish the application.
    • Students will be able to file a 2018–19 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2017
    • Use Earlier Income Information: Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2016 income information, rather than their 2017 income information. 

    CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® is a financial aid application service of the College Board

    While the FAFSA Financial Aid Application is the quintessentially required form in the financial aid world, it’s not the only form you’ll be expected to fill out, especially if you are applying to any private colleges. Several hundred private colleges and some public colleges also require another form originated by the College Board, the CSS Profile: The College Scholarship Service Profile. The profile is college specific and is used to determine aid eligibility for non-federal financial aid, such as institutional scholarships and grants. This form tends to be more detailed than the FAFSA and focuses on information needed pertaining to specific programs at each school. Having a separate form allows the school to ask more tailored questions. Here is the link: http://profileonline.collegeboard.com/index.jsp 

    Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is not free. The FAFSA can be submitted beginning on January 1 (or first business day of the new year). The CSS Profile can be submitted prior to January 1. Each financial aid application uses different needs analysis formulas. Among other differences, the methodology used takes into account home equity and also assumes contribution from the student. The CSS Profile asks you to separate your income throughout the year by season and requires detailed reports of your assets, medical expenses, tuition reimbursements, scholarships and family gifts. The Profile can be accessed at the following website: 

    Cal Grant awards are state-funded monetary grants given to students to help pay for college expenses at schools in California.
    • The awards do not have to be paid back. You apply for all Cal Grants when completing your FAFSA and having your school provide a GPA Verification form to the California Student Aide Commission (CSAC).
    • Selection is based on financial need, academic performance, and other factors. Cal Grant A is available to assist with registration fees for low- and middle-income students; for Cal Grant B, a disadvantaged background is also considered; for Cal Grant C, vocational interest and aptitude are considered.
    • GPA Verification will be submitted electronically to the California Student Aid Commission by the OPHS Registrar. This will be done automatically unless you submit a Cal Grant GPA Opt-Out form by October 15th.
    • For more information about the Cal Grant program, you can go to the following website: http://www.csac.ca.gov/
    CalGrantWe have a page dedicated to Cal Grants at the following link on the OPHS website: Cal Grants

    UNDERSTANDING (EFC) EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION 
    By Kim Clark posted at US News Education at: http://www.usnews.com/education
     
    Your EFC represents what a college will expect you to pay at a minimum for one year of a child's college. The EFC, which is expressed as a dollar figure, is calculated based on such factors as family income, certain investment assets, the number of people in the household and, in some cases, home equity. Plenty of families are shocked when they obtain their EFC. Parents with a lot of debt can be particularly upset. The EFC formulas don't consider household debt, so the EFC can be a fairly harsh assessment of a family's ability to pay for college.
     
    Some low-income families can have an EFC as low as $0. An EFC of $0 means that the family has no ability to pay for college. Families with low EFC's will want to look at schools that give generous need-based financial aid packages. By contrast, there is no EFC ceiling for wealthy students. 
     
    Why do you need to know what your EFC is? You will get some idea of the costs that your family will face for one year of college and what kind of financial aid you might expect. But that figure alone won't tell you anything until you look at the price tag of a particular school. Here are two examples:
     
    School No. 1: Private College
     
    Family EFC: $24,000
     
    Cost of attendance: $52,000
     
    Potential financial aid award: $28,000
     
    School No. 2: State University
     
    Family EFC: $24,000
     
    Cost of attendance: $14,000
     
    *Potential "need-based" financial aid award: $0
    *If this student qualified for a "merit" based scholarship, they would still receive it, even if their EFC is higher than the cost of attendance.
     
    What factors should parents & students consider in evaluating a financial award:
     
    As a practical matter, the vast majority of schools will not meet 100 percent of a family's need. The students who capture the best financial aid packages are typically the ones whom a college or university covets. Teenagers will often get a better deal if they are in the top 25 percent to 33 percent of the latest crop of applicants.
     
    Students and parents looking to choose a college likely to award them sufficient grants can ask the college's financial aid office about 10 major factors that help determine just how big their financial aid offer will probably be:
     
    1. The college's policy on student loans: Several schools, including Amherst College in Massachusetts and Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., provide enough grants and work-study jobs to meet a student's need. Others, such as Oberlin College in Ohio and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., say they will provide enough grants so that low-income students don't have to borrow, while others will be expected to take out modest loans. Still, others offer aid packages that include federal student loans of up to $7,500 a year.
     
    2. The way the college calculates a family's "need": Harvard University, for example, promises to provide enough grants to make sure families earning less than $180,000 pay no more than 10 percent of their income. Other schools on this list promise enough aid so that the family generally only has to come up with an expected family contribution that the school calculates based on the family's income and assets.
     
    3. What the college considers as its "cost": Legally, a college's total cost of attendance is supposed to include tuition, fees, room, board, books, travel, and reasonable miscellaneous expenses for laundry and other necessities. Some schools keep their "cost" low by providing comparatively small allowances for books or miscellaneous expenses. The College Board surveys colleges every year and estimates that books and supplies cost about $1,100 last year. The typical "miscellaneous" expense budget ranged from $1,400 to $2,000.
     
    4. The college's expectation for a student contribution: Many of the schools on this list reduce the student's need, and thus the aid package, by at least $1,000 (and some by much more), saying that the student is expected to contribute that much each year from summer earnings. A few schools, such as SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y., provide enough aid so that students aren't required to pitch in summer earnings.
     
    5. How the college counts home equity: Some colleges, such as Yale University and Occidental College in Los Angeles, do sometimes consider the equity parents have in their homes as a resource that should be tapped to help pay for college. Others, such as Brown University and Harvard, don't consider home equity at all.
     
    6. How the college considers divorced parents: Some schools, such as Yale, analyze the incomes of both stepparents and original parents and make their own judgments about which set of parents should be responsible for each student's college costs. Others, such as Boston College, consider the incomes of only the original parents. Colleges that only use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid consider only the custodial parents' income, even if a stepparent has a prenuptial agreement relieving the stepparent of financial responsibility for the child.
     
    7. The cutoff date for the meet-full-needs promise: Reed College in Portland, Ore., and SUNY ESF try to meet the needs of only those students who complete their aid applications on time. Other schools, such as Adrian College in Michigan, commit to meet the need of only those students admitted during the early or regular admission seasons and may run out of aid by the time they start admitting students off of the wait list. Still others, such as Princeton University, Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., say the timing of the application doesn't affect the aid award.
     
    8. The aid policy for international students: A few schools on this list, such as Princeton and Grinnell College in Iowa, commit to meet the financial needs of noncitizens. Many others, such as Northwestern and Adrian, don't guarantee full aid for international students.
     
    9. Whether the school also offers merit scholarships: Some schools on this list, such as Rice University in Houston and Washington University in St. Louis, offer top students scholarships no matter how rich their parents or what their EFC is. Others, such as Columbia University, do not offer merit scholarships.
     
    10. The effect of an aid application on chances for admission: At least 28 colleges have committed to ignoring a student's aid application when deciding about admission. But some others on the list do reserve at least some seats for students who can pay full price. Reed says it meets the full need of all admitted students and doesn't consider the ability to pay for more than 90 percent of its admission decisions. But the last dozen or so fat envelops go to students who don't need financial aid.
     
     
    UNDERSTANDING THE TERMS IN A FINANCIAL AWARD LETTER
     
    By: SUZANNE SHAFFER posted at www.collegesandcareers.com
     
    Spring is in the air and that means one thing for high school seniors: college acceptance letters are arriving along with their financial aid packages. It’s an exciting time for both parents and students, but it can also be a confusing time as well. Especially if you don’t understand the award letter or how to compare the various awards once they arrive.
     
    After you’ve been accepted to a college or university, and complete the FAFSA, you should receive a financial aid award letter. The typical financial aid award letter consists of the following: the college’s cost of attendance, college scholarships, and grants, work-study and loans.
     
    After completing the FAFSA, your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is calculated. The ideal award offers aid to make up the difference between the EFC and the cost of tuition. Before you choose a college‘s aid package, follow these steps to understand what you are being offered—award letters typically contain the following components:
     
    • Cost of Attendance. There shouldn't be any surprises when looking at the price tag for tuition, fees, and room and board. But the cost of attendance cited in a college's financial aid award letter will also include estimates for books, supplies, and living and transportation expenses. Those estimates can vary significantly depending on the student. So what you end up paying could be far higher or lower than the school's projection. "Some students may need $200 a month for living expenses, others might need a lot more," said Smith. "Parents should have a better idea of the student's spending habits than the school." Students who live out of state should also consider how much more they might need to spend in transportation costs. Even the cost of books and supplies can vary significantly depending on the student's major.
    • Free Aid (Merit Aid)–This is money that you do not need to pay back. This can be in the form of federal and/or state grants, but might also come from the colleges themselves.
    • Federal Work-Study–If you qualify for work-study, a certain amount of jobs are set aside on campus for students who qualify. You can use the earnings from this job to put toward your college expenses.
    • Loans–Pay attention to the types of loans offered to you—especially to see if they are subsidized (deferred interest during college) or unsubsidized (interest is NOT deferred during college). Remember, any money you borrow must be repaid, so think before you accept those student loan offers.
    • Your Estimated Family Contribution. Your award letter will list what they expect you to pay. Some colleges do not meet the full demonstrated financial need for all students but instead leave a gap. This usually occurs at colleges with limited student aid budgets.
    • Special Circumstances. Sometimes events that impact your finances (job loss, divorce, unexpected medical costs) take place after a financial aid award is calculated. Or, your financial aid paperwork may seem like it doesn’t reflect your financial situation—such as taking care of an elderly family member. If you fall into any of these categories, contact your school’s financial aid office immediately—you may be eligible for additional aid.
    • Outside Scholarships. If you win any outside scholarships, you have to tell the college about them. Unfortunately, federal regulations require the college to reduce your need-based aid package when you win an outside scholarship. Colleges do, however, have some flexibility in how they reduce your financial aid package. Many will use the outside scholarship to first fill any gap, and then use half the funds to reduce loans and half to reduce grants. Ask the college for information about its outside scholarship policy if this will affect you.
    • Comparing Costs. Compare all the financial aid packages offered by the various colleges that you receive award letters from. Pay special attention to the type of aid that is awarded and make your college decision based on each college’s award package. You can decline to accept any or all of the aid that is offered. The U.S. Department of Education provides a simple worksheet to help you compare financial aid awards.
    • Dealing with a Gap. Colleges will often admit students but not meet their financial need. This is called “gapping”. When a college does this, they are basically saying that they need to meet their admissions quota, but aren’t willing to offer you any incentive to attend. In some cases, the gap can be huge. When a college does this, they are hoping you will decline their offer of admission. What should you do? Decline it! They obviously don’t value your contribution to their student body. Choose a college that is willing to give you substantial aid because they want you to attend.
    • Negotiations. If you receive multiple awards you can use them to negotiate for additional aid. Use the awards as a bargaining tool with colleges and attempt to negotiate more aid.
    Colleges use financial aid awards to entice students into accepting their offer of admission. This is the college you want to attend–one that values your contribution and is willing to put their money where their mouth is!

     
    Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources on the Internet:
    • Academic Competitiveness & National SMART Grants: Current college students and high school seniors to apply for new Academic Competitiveness Grants and National SMART Grants. Students who completed rigorous coursework in high school or who are pursuing degrees in math, science and critical foreign languages are eligible for a portion of $790 million in new federal funding for higher education. For more information go to: http://www.ed.gov/
    • BrokeScholar This is a free scholarship search engine connecting students and parents with financial aid and college scholarships. The Broke Scholar database matches student profiles with more than 900,000 scholarships worth over $3 billion to find the most relevant and obtainable opportunities. It can be accessed at: https://www.brokescholar.com/
    • California Student Aid Commission This site is for the student or parent to assist in your search for State, federal and institutional financial aid information for funding post-high school education. It can be accessed at: http://www.csac.ca.gov/
    • College Covered FAFSA Assistant The first step in determining your eligibility for college financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Just tell us a bit about yourself and we'll provide guidance to help you complete the FAFSA® application. this service can be accessed at: https://www.collegecovered.com/
    • Collegenet.com allows you to search for scholarships two ways - A Keyword Search
    • if you already know something about the scholarship you are looking for. Enter a series of keywords to find all scholarships that contain those same words in their name or description. A Profile Search looks for scholarships that match your personal profile. Provide as little or as much information as you want to find the scholarships that you are most qualified to receive. This service can be accessed at: http://www.collegenet.com/mach25/app
    • College Scholarship Guide offered by "The Simple Dollar" has created a very helpful guide to the college scholarship process which can be accessed at:  http://www.thesimpledollar.com/college-scholarship-guide/ 
    •  College Toolkit is a one-stop resource for life after high school allowing students to find and apply for scholarships, search through a database of more than 4,000 colleges, and explore 900 careers all in one location. It is one of the most comprehensive sites for life after high school... and everything on the site is free for students to use! This website can be accessed at: http://www.collegetoolkit.com/
    • FAFSA4caster allows you and your family to receive an early estimate of eligibility for federal student aid. This Web site provides you with an opportunity to increase your knowledge of the financial aid process; become familiar with the various types of federal student aid that are available; and investigate other sources of aid, such as grants and scholarships. To access this website go to: http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov/F4CApp/index/index.jsf
    • FASTWeb is a free searchable database of more than 600,000 private sector scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans. It is absolutely the most "cutting edge" method of researching scholarship information, and it is updated daily (approximately 1,200 per day). To access the Financial Aid Information page on the Internet type: http://edu.fastweb.com/ For more information on 
    • The Simple Dollar has multiple guides to help parents and students understand how to pay for their college education. It can be accessed at:      http://www.thesimpledollar.com/category/education/ call 1-800-327-8932.
    • Finaid.org is an overall financial aid site with information on loans and scholarships, and a financial aid calculator that can help you determine whether you qualify for need-based aid and what your family's (EFC) Estimated Financial Contribution will be. It can be accessed at: http://www.finaid.org/ 
    • Financial Aid Online Calculator  The FinAid.org website also includes a custom financial aid calculator which can be accessed at:http://www.finaid.org/calculators/ 
    • Financial Aid Letter.com is a website where you can read real college financial aid award letters. Decode confusing (and sometimes misleading) loan and scholarship information. Translate financial aid jargon and acronyms into plain English. Get great tips on raising extra college cash, cutting costs, and making that degree more affordable. Find out why you deserve clear and complete cost information, and why colleges aren't delivering it. It can be accessed at: http://www.financialaidletter.com/ 
    • Financial Aid Resources for Hispanic Students College can be expensive for any student, and Hispanic students are no exception. With 49% of Hispanic high school graduates now attending college, the need for specific financial aid resources has also grown. To help answer the call, we've just created a financial aid guide for Hispanic students  http://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/financial-aid-hispanic-students/
    • Golden State ScholarShare College Savings Trust is California's state and federally tax-free "529" college savings program. At this website, you can also learn more about the Governor's Scholarship Program. Although the program has not been funded since 2002 awards granted in prior years can be claimed online at this site as well: http://www.scholarshare.com/ 
    • GUARANTEED SCHOLARSHIPS By guaranteed scholarships, we mean those which are unlimited in number, and require no interview, essay, portfolio, audition, competition or other "secondary" requirement. Just meet the criteria listed, adhere to the application deadlines set by the individual colleges and universities, gain admission, enroll, and receive your scholarship or scholarships. Remember that, in many cases, the scholarships are mutually exclusive...you will generally receive the largest scholarship or grant for which you qualify.  It can be accessed at:  http://www.guaranteed-scholarships.com/
    • HISPANIC SCHOLARSHIP FUND The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation's leading Hispanic scholarship organization, providing the Hispanic community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. In its 34 year history, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has awarded close to $280M in scholarships to more than 90,000 students in need. Two-thirds of these students were the first in their families to go to college. It can be accessed at: http://hsf.net/default.aspx
    • IRS TRANSCRIPT Get a record of your past tax returns, also referred to as transcripts. IRS transcripts are often used to validate income and tax filing status for mortgage applications, student and small business loan applications, and during tax preparation. You can download and print your transcript immediately or request the transcript be mailed to your address on record. To access this service go to the following link on the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript 
    • Kaarme.com provides free college and scholarship information for high school students. Unlike other college and scholarship websites, however, Kaarme.com does not profit from the sale of student information to third parties. Begun by a group of concerned parents who were dissatisfied with the status quo, Kaarme.com’s Scholarship Section is the only one available that does not require students to register and submit personal information which is then sold to any company willing to pay for it. For more information go to: http://www.kaarme.com/
    • MeritAid.com is the Web's first comprehensive directory of merit scholarships from colleges. We want to make it easy for you to understand how much merit aid is available to you from colleges across the country before you apply. The site can be accessed at: http://www.meritaid.com/index.jsp
    • National Center for Educational Statistics This website tells you the average award amount at each school, how many students receive aid and various other statistics. You can also find this information in many college handbooks. It can be accessed at: http://www.nces.ed.gov/
    • Naviance Family Connection To view local scholarships that are available through the OPHS College & Career Center login to Naviance by clicking on the icon. Once you login click on the "Scholarship List" link. If you do not yet have a Naviance password you can contact Mrs. Hawkins in the College & Career Center, or you can simply login as a "Guest." Mrs. Hawkin'ss contact information is: 818-735-3315 or via email at: jhawkins@oakparkusd.org
    • (OEDb) Open Education Data Base is a comprehensive online education directory for both free and for-credit learning options. We offer up-to-date, detailed program information from accredited online colleges for degree seekers and categorize free online college courses from well-known universities and providers. It can be accessed at: http://oedb.org/
    • Private Student Loans Guide covers Eligibility, Costs, Repayment, & Warnings to help students and parents navigate the confusing process of student debt. https://studentloans.net/private-student-loans/ 
    • SallieMae.com has detailed information on education savings plans, school costs, ways to pay for college, scholarships, and the student financial aid process (from estimating your (EFC) Estimated Family Contribution, to completing the FAFSA and reviewing the (SAR) Student Aid Report.It can be accessed at: https://www.salliemae.com/plan-for-college/ 
    • Scholarships.com Each Scholarships.com user answers a detailed questionnaire, providing information about their academics, extracurricular activities, and individual background. We then use this data to generate a customized list of grant and scholarship opportunities that match the student's qualifications. At the heart of this process is our industry-leading scholarship database–the most comprehensive and accurate compilation of national, state, local, and college-based scholarships and grants available anywhere: http://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/
    • Scholarship Hunter is a free service that allows you to search for scholarships by major and by state. It also has a comprehensive listing of scholarship sweepstakes & essay contests. It can be accessed at: http://scholarshiphunter.com
    • SchoolSoup has the largest scholarship database in the world. Their search engine will find scholarships that match your interests and profile by searching through $32 Billion worth of scholarships. They also provide links to Test Prep services, online textbooks, and a college search engine! It can be accessed at: http://schoolsoup.com/
    • SimpleTution.com Borrowing for educational expenses leaves many students and their families feeling lost - and they are not alone. With so many lenders offering so many versions of basic loan types, it can be hard to find the financing option that's best for each individual's situation. That's where SimpleTuition comes in. SimpleTuition is designed to help students and families find their way to the ideal student loan or financing option for educational expenses and to help them take action. It can be accessed at: www.simpletuition.com
    • Student Loan Hero is a company that combines easy to use tools with financial education to help students understand their financial options and to make the best choices. It can be accessed at: https://studentloanhero.com/
    • Student Scholarship Search provides students and parents with a FREE searchable database of college scholarships and grants. No registration required. Scholarships updated daily. It can be accessed at: http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com
    • The U.S. Department of Education site has information about federal aid programs and includes recommendations and tips for parents and students on how to pay for college. It can be accessed at: www.studentaid.ed.gov
    • The Simple Dollar has multiple guides to help parents and students understand how to pay for their college education. It can be accessed at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/category/education/ 
    • Web Grants 4 Students is where you can check the status of your Cal Grant application at: https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov/logon.asp and access your grant information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
    • The WESTERN UNDERGRADUATE EXCHANGE (WUE) is a program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Students who are residents of WICHE states are eligible to request a reduced tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state. It can be accessed at: http://wue.wiche.edu/ 


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Last Modified on July 19, 2018