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How to get Financial Aid


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New Jersey residents: New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

Residents of other states can find similar information  for their states at EROD

How much will my family have to pay?  Click here to calculate your EFC.

 

 
        Financial aid is fairly complicated, but there is lots of help available if you just take the first step.  Simply put, you'll need to complete the FAFSA.  You could download the worksheet and work on it early, but if you do it in January and February to attend school the following September you'll be fine.  You can read a bit more about the FAFSA here if you'd like.

     The important thing though is not that you read about it, but that you fill it out at the appropriate time.  You'll also have to meet a few other requirements which include the following:

  • Having a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Being a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Having a social security number

     There are more requirements, of course, but those are some of the most significant. Most male students will also have to register with the selective service. This can be accomplished through line 28 of the FAFSA form, or online at the Selective Service System.

     After completing the FAFSA, you can expect to receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) in one to four weeks. (Hint: Complete the FAFSA online if you’d like this information sooner.) The SAR will include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is just what it sounds like: the federal government’s idea of what your family should be willing/able to pay for your education.

     The colleges you are accepted at will use your EFC and their own Cost of Attendance (COA) to calculate your unmet financial need. This number will vary from one college to another, because the COA will vary from one college to another. Enough of my going on about this though. You can see a great example by clicking here.

     Finally, the financial aid office at each college you’ve been accepted at will send you a letter describing the aid for which you are eligible at that particular college. Each college will try to offer a package that will enable you to attend. The package may include grants, work-study, loans for the student, and loans for the parents.

     A few points to keep in mind in reviewing your aid offers include:

  • Grants do not have to be repaid
  • Work-study is money you earn with a part-time job while in school. If you manage your time, this should not be a big problem.
  • Subsidized loans have the interest paid by the government during certain periods.
  • Unsubsidized loans are loans in which the borrower is responsible for all interest during the life of the loan.

     Remember that each financial aid office will always be willing to explain their offer to you and help you to work out the details. For a great in-depth look at financial aid online check out The Student Guide. 

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