The cost of going to college is a concern for parents and students. From the relatively modest cost of attending a community college like Chabot College to the higher price of going to a public or private 4-year school, there is the need to cope with the challenge of paying for college. Here is some basic information about financial aid for the college years.
What is the cost of going to college?
1. Tuition and Fees: Tuition charges help pay for the cost of instruction. Some colleges charge fees in addition to tuition. Tuition for private colleges is significantly higher than public colleges. Check the college catalog for information on tuition and fees.
2. Room and Board:Students living away from home have both housing and food costs. Many colleges provide campus housing for freshman students. Check the college catalog for on-campus room and board costs.
3. Travel: Consider the cost of traveling from home to college. Estimate the number of trips you'll make home during each college year. Some colleges allow cars on campus, but may charge for parking.
4. Books: All college textbooks must be purchased. Book costs can add up to hundreds of dollars each year. Finding used textbooks at the campus bookstore or on-line can help reduce book costs.
5. Personal Expenses: Personal expenses must be included in the cost of college. Is a computer required? Phone expenses?
Who qualifies for Financial Aid?
You must have need to qualify for financial aid. College costs minus your family contribution equals your financial need. Family contribution is determined from the information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some factors involved in estimating family contribution are the income, assets, and age of your parents, as well as the number of children in the family. There are no-need scholarships available at some colleges. The College Financial Aid Office will put together a financial aid package. Many private colleges have a great deal of money to offer students with financial need.
What Are The Sources Of Financial Aid?
College: Every college has a financial aid office, which helps students find grants, loans, scholarships and work study programs.
State of California: The Cal Grant program awards grants that help pay tuition costs for California students going to a California public or independent college.
Loans: Request information from the Financial Aid Office at the college that you will attend about loans that are available to parents and students.
Military: The military services have opportunities that range from programs for enlisted persons to attendance at West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy.
Federal Government: The Pell Grant program provides funds for low-income students to attend college.
Scholarships: National and local scholarships are available to high school seniors each year. Visit the Career Center for information on these opportunities.
What Applications Are Needed To Apply For Financial Aid?
1. Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):All colleges want this form completed. Attend the Financial Aid Workshop at SLz in December of your senior year. You will get a FAFSA worksheet and help on filling it out. You can also pick up copy of the FAFSA worksheet from the counseling office or obtain it on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov in Janaury. Fill out the application online as close to January 1 as possible, but definitely during January or February. March 2 is the deadline. This form gives basic financial aid information to U.S. government and colleges. It is required to qualify for federal financial aid programs. There is no fee involved -- the FAFSA is a free form.
2. California Grant Application--GPA Verification Form: If you are going to a California college you must complete a Cal Grant Application. To qualify for a Cal Grant you must file a FAFSA as well. You can get an application at the Senior Financial Aid Workshop in December. Make sure your first two colleges listed on the FAFSA are in California, and that the California colleges are listed in order of most expensive to least. The application asks for the student's high school grade point average (GPA). Be sure to mail in application before March deadline. There are no fees involved -- the GPA Verification Form is a free form.
3. Individual College Financial Aid Application or Profile: The Financial Aid Profile (CSS) is needed at many private colleges. There is a fee for this service. Some colleges have their own financial aid application. Students need to contact the college financial aid office for an institutional application. Financial aid applications are sometimes sent with the admissions application package. Check deadlines carefully so applications are submitted on time. It is important to file your Profile as early as possible. For Early Decision Applicants, it is recommended to file the Profile in October. The application is available in the counseling office and you have to pay a fee for the processing.
Checklist For Seniors Applying for Financial Aid:
- Find out the costs at the college of your choice
- Talk with your parents about how college costs will be paid.
- Attend the Senior Financial Aid Workshop in December and pick up the FAFSA
- Pick up the Cal Grant Application
- Check with colleges about individual financial aid applications
- Check with your counselor about local scholarships
- Mail in all applications on time
- Check on-line web sites for financial aid information
Tips on the Financial Aid Process
Obtain the FAFSA worksheet in the counseling office, then apply on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- Although you may not file the FAFSA until January 1, all students and parents are encouraged to apply for a PIN number before that date: www.pin.ed.gov, or go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and click getting started. If you do not have your PIN when filing electronically, you must download a signature form, sign it and send it in. This will delay the processing of your FAFSA. (FAFSA are only held 14 days without a signature.) With the PIN, students and parents will be able to access the account. The student's PIN is the key to getting into the records. The parent's PIN is a signature only!
- Once your FAFSA is filed, wait until you receive the SAR (Student Aid Report) before making corrections.
- You must enter your Social Security Number.
- To actually file the FAFSA, you will need your tax information. The earlier you and your parents file the earlier your aid can be packaged at the individual college financial aid offices.
- If you are applying to private colleges which require the CSS Profile, request the customized form as soon as possible. The profile applications are available in counseling.
Financial Aid Do's
- Always answer all questions unless specifically told not to. If you are uncertain of the answer, you may estimate.
- Always read the directions.
- Get a proof of mailing any time you send financial aid information by mail.
- Always get financial aid forms in as early as possible.
- Keep your last pay stub for this year. It will give you the total income numbers
- To be eligible for Cal Grants: List the California college you most likely attend (or if there are two campuses which are in contention, the most expensive one first) on line #87.
Financial Aid Don't's
Don't wait till the deadline to file your FAFSA or any other financial aid documents. The later you file, the less money will be available. File your FAFSA as close to January 1 as possible.
Some Helpful Financial Aid Web Sites
- Federal Student Aid: www.fafsa.ed.gov, www.pin.ed.gov
- California Student Aid Commission: www.csac.ca.gov
- CSS Profile Information: www.collegeboard.org
- Financial Aid Information Page: www.finaid.org
- Educaid: www.educaid.com
- Financial Aid Calculator: www.fastweb.com
- FinAid-Financial Aid Information: www.finaid.org