THE BASICS OF COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID There are two types of college financial aid: scholarships and federally- or state- awarded financial aid. SCHOLARSHIPS: Scholarships are generally awarded for some type of merit or talent. Usually, there is some type of competition involved. Also, most scholarship application forms vary from one another. Scholarships may be awarded for: Outstanding academic performance as verified through grade point average and ACT/SAT test score. Outstanding leadership skills as shown through extracurricular involvement and election to office. Exemplary talent (vocal or instrumental music, art, speech/drama, athletics, etc.). These may be awarded only after try-outs, auditions, etc. A combination of the above, which may or may not include financial need. WHERE TO LOOK FOR SCHOLARSHIPS: 1. Ask your high school counselor! Search the “Scholarship Area” located between the High School Office and Counselor’s Office doors. This area is designed to help you have easy access to scholarship forms. Also, listen to daily announcements about scholarship updates or due dates. 2. Subscribe to internet scholarships searches: www.fafsa.ed.gov www.pin.ed.gov www.act.org www.collegeboard.org www.okpromise.org www.okhighered.org www.fastweb.com www.cashforcollege.ok.info www.oklahomamoneymatters.org www.collegestart.org www.mapping-your-future.org 3. Ask your parents to find out if scholarships are available through their workplace. Many companies and labor unions have special scholarships set up specifically for children of employees. 4. Ask your own employer if a scholarship is available for employees (this may be especially true if you are employed by a nation-wide company.) 5. Ask your church if scholarships are available either through your own local church or through your larger church body. 6. Ask your insurance agent. Some insurance companies have scholarships for patrons. 7. Check civic organizations such as Moose Lodge, Kiwanis Club, American Legion, Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H, etc. to see if scholarships are available. Also, check to see if scholarships are available for members of national organizations (National Rifle Association, Quail Unlimited, American Junior Maine-Anjou Cattle Association, etc.) 8. Don’t overlook aid from organizations connected with your field of intended career area (American Medical Association, etc.) Many organizations award scholarships to students planning a career in their particular field. Scholarships may not be available right now to entering college freshmen, but may be available once the student becomes a junior or senior. These organizations are listed in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, located both on-line and at public libraries. 9. Student with disabilities may qualify for funds through the Vocational Rehabilitation program. This program distributes money based on family income, degree of disability, and amount of funds available. Contact the Duncan Vocational Rehab. Office at 255-1115. 10. Contact the college where you will be attending concerning the types of scholarships they offer. Many colleges offer scholarships based on academic success, but may also offer scholarships based on leadership and/or talent. OU list a February 1 deadline, but in reality scholarships to OU have begun to be distributed in the middle of October and may be depleted by February 1st. This means—apply to OU EARLY!!! Both to be admitted and also for their scholarship. OSU and Cameron have a February 1st deadline and do not award any scholarships until after this date. USAO’s deadline is February 8; all other state colleges and universities have a March 1st deadline. 11. Students of American Indian descent may receive financial assistance through tribal money allocations. Most tribal agencies request students apply for federal student aid before students are awarded tribal monies. Be sure to contact your tribal office for more information. 12. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education sponsors scholarship programs including the Academic Scholars Program for students named as a finalist or scholar in the National Merit program, or students who score in the top 99.5% on the ACT or SAT exam. They also sponsor the “Oklahoma’s Promise” (OHLAP) program for students whose family income is not more than $50,000 a year, earn at least a 2.5 gpa, and take a college preparatory curriculum. Students must enroll in this program their 8th, grade, freshmen, or sophomore years. FEDERALLY- AND STATE-AWARDED FINANCIAL AID: Federally- or state-awarded financial aid is based on financial need. This need is determined by your family’s ability to pay for college and the expense of the college you plan to attend. If your education will cost more than your family is able to pay, then you are considered to have financial need. Each family is expected to contribute to the cost of education; those who are financially unable to assist with a significant portion of these costs are awarded financial aid. APPLYING FOR FINANCIAL AID: Only one application to apply for financial aid is required: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 1. Go on-line to apply at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is FREE—if you are asked to pay money for this service, you are at the WRONG website!!! 2. Apply first to get a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Both student and at least one parent should do this. Parents may use this same number to apply for financial aid for their younger children. This process takes about one minute and just asks you to provide your name, social security number, birth date, and an e-mail address. You may now even make up your own PIN number—which is the best thing to do so that you do not have to wait for one to be assigned for you! 3. Fill out the FAFSA application completely. You will be asked questions about both your income and your parents’ income for the previous year. This information is based on information taken from income tax forms; therefore, your taxes need to be figured before you complete the FAFSA, but they do not have to be filed. 4. The FAFSA allow you to name up to six colleges or universities to which you give the U.S. Department of Education permission to send your application information. Be sure to list all the colleges you think you will be attending—it can slow down the process when you have to add additional colleges once the FAFSA has been processed. 5. APPLY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!!! Money begins to run out by the middle or end of March, and you want to be able to get all the money you are eligible to get! 6. After you apply, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). Look this over carefully; if there are no corrections, contact the Financial Aid office of the college where you will be attending. 7. Be sure to notify the Financial Aid officer of any major changes that may have occurred since completion of the financial information (loss of job, etc.) Financial Aid officers can use their own judgment to override some of the financial figures listed. Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): The information you include on the FAFSA determines whether you are eligible for these programs. The Pell Grant and FSEOG are for undergraduates with the lowest Expected Family Contributions—that is, the most financial need. This is grant money which does not have to be re-paid. The Pell Grant is awarded to all eligible students. FSEOG funding is limited because it is awarded through individual colleges. Each college receives limited amounts of FSEOG monies and therefore is usually reserved for only those with exceptional financial need. When the money for a program is gone, no more awards can be made from that program for the year. 2007-2008 Awards: Federal Pell Grant Maximum up to $4,310 FSEOG Maximum up to $4,000 (varies from school to school) Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG): This is money distributed through the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education which does not have to be re-paid. Recipients must be residents of Oklahoma attending an Oklahoma college or university at least half-time. Also uses FAFSA to determine eligibility, and students indicating an Oklahoma residency and intent to attend an Oklahoma college automatically have student information sent to OTAG program. Funds are limited and OTAG money usually runs out very quickly! 2007-2008 Awards: OTAG Maximum annual award is 75% of enrollment costs or $1,000, whichever is less. Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program: This program provides part-time jobs for students with financial need. Community service and work related to the recipient’s course of study are encouraged. Recipients are paid by the hour, and must be paid directly at least once a month. The total FWS award is determined by date of application, financial need, and funding available at the college. Federal Perkins Loan5% fixed rate loan with the college serving as the lender. Principal and interest charges deferred while enrolled at least half-time. Eligibility based on financial need. Up to $4,000 awarded annually to undergraduates. Repayment begins 9 months after the student graduates, drops below half-time status, or withdraws from college. Repayment may run up to 10 years. Federal Stafford Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized): Annually adjusted variable interest rate with a 8.25% maximum. (Currently 6.00 % for subsidized and 6.8% for unsubsidized.)Eligibility for subsidized is based on financial need and features deferment of principal and interest charges while enrolled at least half time. As an additional alternative, the unsubsidized is for independent students, and dependent students who do not qualify for the maximum subsidized version. Eligibility for the unsubsidized is not based on financial need. Annual amount for full-time dependent undergraduates is up to $2,625 for the first year, up to $3,500 for the second year, and up to $5,500 thereafter. A standard repayment may run up to 10 years. Repayment begins 6 months after student graduates, drops below half-time enrollment, or withdraws from college. The government pays interest for the subsidized loan until repayment begins. The borrower pays all interest charges for the unsubsidized loan, which may be deferred and capitalized at extra cost to the borrower. Federal PLUS Loan (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students): Loan available to parents at an annually adjusted variable interest rate with 9% maximum. Eligibility determined by college, but on credit history rather than financial need. May borrow up to the difference between college costs minus estimated financial assistance. Repayment begins within 60 days after loan is fully disbursed. Interest rate currently at 8.50%. APPLY EARLY!!! MONEY IS CLAIMED ON A FIRST-COME BASIS!! TIPS FOR COMPLETING FAFSA 1. READ THE FORM! Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, but others may require you to read the instructions in order to answer the question correctly. Words like “household”, “investments”, and even “parents” may have specific definitions for purposes of student financial aid. Be sure to read instructions carefully. 2. APPLY EARLY! Deadlines for OTAG, FSEOG, etc. may be earlier than for the Pell Grant. It is therefore very important that you apply as quickly as possible. Your FAFSA can be processed and some Pell Grant money will be awarded up to June 30, 2003; however, OTAG and other money will be depleted long before that time and you cannot receive it—even if you were eligible! 3. YOU DON’T NEED TO FILE YOUR INCOME TAX RETURN BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR FAFSA. Filling out your tax return first will make completing the FAFSA much easier. However, you do not need to submit your tax return to the IRS before you submit your FAFSA. If you know it will be April (or later) before your income tax is figured, use the previous year’s figures as an approximation and complete the FAFSA anyway (you may, however, be required by the university financial aid office to show current income tax figures before award money is finalized.) 4. YOU CAN FILE YOUR FAFSA ELECTRONICALLY. Completing and submitting your FAFSA over the internet is the fastest way of getting this application processed. Also, your information is edited before it is submitted and therefore if information is in error or omitted, this can be caught immediately. 5. YOU MUST CONTACT THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE AT THE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY BEFORE THE PROCESS IS COMPLETE! The college financial aid office is the office that determines the amount of award you will receive based on your family’s estimated family contribution (EFC) subtracted from the cost of the college. BE SURE to inform the financial aid officer of unique situations which may affect your family income for the coming year. 6. ADDITIONAL FORMS MAY BE REQUIRED. Some colleges may require additional information beyond the FAFSA. These documents may include tax returns, Social Security information, etc. If there are extenuating circumstances that may cause portions of the estimated family contribution to change, these will also be required (medical records, etc.).