SOS College Resources

Filling out the FAFSA

This site features the FAFSA application and CSS profile, which are both forms of government student aid. Every year that you are in college, it is highly recommended that you fill out a FAFSA application if you think you qualify for financial aid. A supplementary CSS profile may also be required by the college(s) you are applying to. Both of these documents are explained in great detail on this site.

The video below provides a step-by-step walk through on how to prepare yourself for the FAFSA.

This video provides information for special cases concerning your dependency status – such as if you split your time between parents who are divorced or separated.

If you find yourself in need of more information, go to www.thecollegeexpert.com for more information on how to get the maximum amount of financial aid.

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15 Changes to the FAFSA and What it Means to You

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has undergone a number of changes in 2010 which could effect you. Before filling out the application, make sure to look at these key points compiled by the Scholarship Street Blog:

1. New url for the site:  www.fafsa.gov.  The old url still works but this is a shorter address in hopes of preventing students from going to “un”official sites that charge a fee to complete the FAFSA for you.  NEVER pay a fee to complete the FAFSA.  It’s free.

2. Color coded tabs for student and parent sections so it is clear who fills in the required information.  Parents = purple.  Students = Blue.

3. More detailed information such as graduation and retention rates of the colleges you select.  Hey, you should know what you are paying for, right?

4. Fewer questions, based on the profile you enter.  For example, if you are not married, you will not see the questions about married students.  That makes sense and saves you time.

5. More help functions that are tailored to you and how you answer the questions.

6. Removal of Veteran’s benefits questions because they no longer affect eligibility for other federal aid (could change in the future – don’t know)

7. Quick, live estimate of Pell Grant eligibility, based on the information your provide.  No matter waiting and wondering.

8. Virtual keyboard and scrambled SS# to better protect your identity.

9.  Status bars/indicators so you know where you are in the process.

10. Fewer questions about assets for low-income students…again, that makes sense.

11. Transfer (pre-population) of parent information to a sibling’s application.

12. Skip or re-direct on questions about homeless students or dependent students whose parents refuse to provide financial information.

13.  Revised definitions of homeless, degree of homelessness, independent status, dislocated workers (including dislocated homemaker, which is an extremely important job!) to identify and expand financial aid opportunities for more people.

14. Matching process through Department of Defense for additional aid for students (dependents) who had a parent killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11/01.

15.  Coming in Summer 2010….drumroll please….IRS data retrieval tool to lift information from your parents’ tax forms and SAVE YOU TIME!!!

Sources:  Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp Training and ed.gov blog http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2010/01/a-simpler-application-for-student-aid/

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Resources for parents of college-bound students

College Parents of America is a membership organization that provides good advice and insight into college preparation and college success strategies for families.  Go here:

http://www.collegeparents.org/cpa/index.html

This one’s a link to over 40 other links useful for parents. It includes links on financial aid/scholarships, where to find cheap textbooks, career advice, and discount deals for students.  The Scholarship Lady was interviewed for one of their articles.

http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-resources

This site offers a wealth of articles from college parents who share their experiences with other parents. It also contains short videos to watch, a blog, and a “pick of the month” link to an e-book course on money management.

http://collegetipsforparents.org/

College Parenting is a free magazine that parents can subscribe to. They can pull up an e-version of the magazine to flip through, and the site contains several links to campus life information and scholarships.

http://www.collegeparenting.com/

This is another site, geared toward parents, that offers online, specialized guides on specific universities.

http://www.universityparent.com/

A section of CollegeBoard.com is designed specifically for parents. It provides links to scholarship sites and offers a free e-newsletter to parents.

http://www.collegeboard.com/parents/

This is a mental health guide for parents to refer to while their student is in college. Parents can quickly find a doctor located near their student and may join an online discussion forum regarding college health and wellness.

http://www.revolutionhealth.com/conditions/mental-behavioral-health/college-health/parents/mental-health

This one is a section of the U.S. Department of Education site designed just for parents. It includes access to an archive of “Education News Parents Can Use,” videos dating back to 2002. In addition, the site gives links to financial aid/scholarship sites, FAQs, and tips for parents.  http://www.ed.gov/parents/landing.jhtml?src=ln

***Thanks to the Scholarship Street Blog for collecting these resources.***

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