Smart Money Moves
A monthly guide to Scholarships & Financial Aid: May 2019
In this issue, you will find:
- Apply NOW for Crosby Scholars Last Dollar Grant
- Don't miss these Scholarship Deadlines
- How to Read Your Financial Aid Award Letter
- Get to Know Your College's Financial Aid Office
- What To Do If Your FAFSA is Selected for Verification
- Student Loan Myths
- Winston-Salem Foundation Need-Based Scholarships - Deadline July 31
- DestinationCollege2019: Crosby Scholars Senior Newsletter
- Have Financial Aid Questions? Need help interpreting your Financial Aid Award Letter? Make an appointment with our Financial Aid Coordinator
Apply NOW for Last Dollar Grant in your Student Portal
Crosby Scholars Last Dollar Grant is a need-based grant of up to $1,200 per year for eligible Crosby Scholar seniors. The Last Dollar Grant is not automatically received. Students must apply through their Crosby Scholars Student Portal.
To be eligible to apply for Last Dollar Grant, a student must:
- complete all requirements of the Crosby Scholars Program
- Cumulative weighted GPA of 2.0 or higher
- Must demonstrate Financial Need as determined by the FAFSA
- Must be enrolling in a Full-Time Degree Seeking Program
Last Dollar Grant is need-based aid. The means a student must apply for financial aid by submitting a FAFSA to be considered for a Last Dollar Grant. (If you are not eligible to complete a FAFSA, please contact our office directly for instructions on how to apply.) The studenet must demonstrate not only financial need but also remaining need after the school of choice has awarded aid. To determine the eligibility, the Crosby Scholars staff completes a need analysis form on each student individually.
Three supporting documents must be uploaded to the application. These documents include:
- College Acceptance Letter
- Financial Aid Award Letter - can be mailed or emailed. Can also be accessed by logging into students college email account and clicking on 'Financial Aid' tab
- Student Aid Report (SAR) - Log into the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and click on 'View and Print Student Aid Report (SAR)'
If the student does not have the three supporting documents by the priority deadline of May 15, he/she may and should submit the application and then upload the supporting documents when they are received.
How To Read Your Financial Aid Award Letter
What your award letter should include
No two financial aid award letters will look alike, but they should have:
A list of the financial aid types and amounts awarded
Your awarded aid could include federal, state and institutional grants, as well as federal work-study and scholarships. The list will also include the amount of subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans you can borrow and, often, a PLUS loan your parent or guardian can borrow for your education.
Your cost of attendance
The cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, and room and board for your first year. But it’s not complete. It doesn’t factor in everything you’ll pay for, or how many years you’ll attend.
Think beyond year one
Net price factors in the cost of only one year in school. It also doesn’t take into consideration tuition increases, which are likely, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Multiply the net price by four to get the total minimum cost you can expect. As tuition increases each year, your costs will go up, but your financial aid might not.
Understand aid types
Here’s how to tell the difference among aid types in your award letter:
- Grants and scholarships: Awards that do not have to be repaid. These can come from the federal government, your school or your state’s grant agency. They may be need- or merit-based.
- Work-study: Money you can earn, typically at an hourly rate, that’s funded by the government. It isn’t guaranteed: You have to find a qualifying job that works with your academic schedule, and the amount on your award letter is the maximum you can earn.
- Loans: Borrowed money you must pay back with interest. You borrow federal direct loansfrom the government. These loans often have lower interest rates and more borrower protections than private student loans. And, no credit check or co-signer is required.
How to compare financial aid awards
Once you grasp the cost and your financial aid options, you can more easily compare offers side by side to see which school will be the most affordable.
If you didn’t get as much aid as you hoped from a school, you can write a financial aid appeal letter or consider a less expensive school.
Remember, you don’t have to take all offered financial aid, but make sure to accept all free aid before borrowing money.
Building a Relationship with your College's Financial Aid Office
Why is it important to get to know your college's Financial Aid Office? Because Financial Aid Advisors are there to help you and to give you valuable information that you need in order to make funding your education possible. While Financial Aid Advisors are there to help you, you should respect their time and establish a relationship with them that includes open communication and regular check-ins. Building a strong relationship with your Financial Aid Office may be more important that you think!
Be respectful of your advisors time
Advisors are busy. Your advisor’s day can be filled with lots of meetings and several students to take care of. Therefore, it’s key to start your relationship with your advisor off on a positive note by scheduling an appointment ahead of time instead of dropping in. Also, don’t forget to call and cancel if you can’t make the appointment (but make your appointment if it’s possible).
Prepare for your appointment
Before your appointment, make sure to review your financial aid package so you can speak clearly about your awards, loans, and other aspects of your current financial situation. Also, review your school’s financial aid website for policies and procedures. The clearer the questions you ask, the clearer your advisors answers will be.
Avoid emergency situations
By setting up regular appointments with your financial aid advisor (Once at the beginning of the school year and again after holiday break) and becoming knowledgeable about your school’s financial aid policies and procedures- you should be able to avoid most emergency situations.
Keep it classy
It’s ok to disagree with your financial aid advisor and/or your university’s financial aid policies; everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, make sure you are handling your discontent maturely. Keep in mind that advisors and other financial aid staff have institutional and federal rules to follow, so when you find yourself unhappy about a policy, you should thank the staff member for their time and assistance and then let them know that you would appreciate the opportunity to speak with a supervisor for more clarification.
Remember the names of the people you speak with in your financial aid office. By building quality relationships with your financial aid advisors you don’t have to continually introduce yourself and your background to staff members. Making it easy for your advisor to remember your face and your respectful ways may bring you to the front of their mind when new funding becomes available.
What to do if your FAFSA is selected for Verification
What to do if your FAFSA has been selected for Verification
So, you've been notified that your FAFSA was selected for Verification. Follow these steps to resolve verification issues.
Step 1: Don’t panic.
FAFSA Verification is very common. In fact, one in every 3 students is selected for verification. If your FAFSA has been selected for verification, it does not mean that you’ve done anything wrong. Schools are required to ask you for additional information to verify and support the data provided on your FAFSA.
Step 2: Gather necessary documents.
There are five main areas from your FAFSA that you might be asked to verify. Here’s what you need to satisfy each category:
- Tax information. If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to submit your taxes, you probably won’t be required to verify any of your tax information. If for some reason you can’t use the tool, such as your parents are married but filed separately, you’ll need to submit a copy of your 2017 tax return transcript. You can do so online or request that a tax transcript be sent by mail, which can take between 5 and 10 business days. ** Your college MAY allow you to submit signed copies of your 2017 tax returns. Ask if this an option!
- The number of people in your house and the number in college. Usually, this only requires a signed statement, but you may have to provide proof of enrollment if someone else in the house will also be attending college.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Most likely, you’ll be able to submit a signed statement, but you may also be required to obtain documentation from the agency that issues your family’s SNAP benefits.
- Child support. You’ll need to provide a signed statement that includes the amount of child support paid out as well as details about who pays, who is paid and the name of the child the payments are for. You may also have to provide copies of checks or receipts for those payments.
- High school completion status. This can be a copy of your diploma or GED, or a copy of your final transcript as long as it shows your graduation date.
Step 3: Fill out your FAFSA verification worksheets.
Your school will include verification worksheets to fill out in addition to your requested documentation. In some cases, filling out a verification worksheet is all that’s required.
On your worksheets, be sure to complete each question in full. If a question doesn’t apply to you, answer it with “N/A” or use the number zero, where appropriate. Triple check that everything is correct and complete before sending it in, because mistakes will draw out the process.
Typically, your school will send an email with the necessary verification worksheet(s) attached. If you do not have the worksheets you need, you can find them by going to your schools Financial Aid website. Often, these documents are posted on your schools website for you to view and print.
Step 4: Send in your verification materials before your deadline.
It is important to respond to all verification requests as quickly as possible, and to meet the deadline given by your school. If you need to request a tax return transcript via mail, remember that this process can take several days. Contact your schools Financial Aid Office to let them know that you are waiting on your transcript.
Please know that if you disregard or ignore a verification request, your Financial Aid cannot be processed. This could result in revoking any aid awarded, which could leave you with a balance owed.
Step 5: Follow up with your schools Financial Aid Office.
After you’ve submitted all verification worksheets and necessary documentation, stay in touch with your schools Financial Aid office to make sure your documents were received. Follow up weekly to ensure your FAFSA verification has been resolved.
Federal Student Loan Myths
1. You don't need to worry about how much you borrow -- you can repay it later.
A big mistake a lot of borrowers make is blindly taking out student loans without considering the impact it will have on future payment or career choices.
It’s important to minimize the amount of debt you take on while in school by keeping your student loan balance in check. Living frugally as a college student is usually the key to making this happen.
However, if your spending is out of control as a college student, you’ll end up continuing to live as a frugal college student long after graduation.
Don’t view student loans as an extension of your income. Instead, remember that they’re an investment in your future that you’ll eventually have to pay back, with interest.
2. You only need to make the minimum payments on federal student loans
Borrowers of federal student loans can choose longer repayment terms to reduce the monthly payment. Although you won’t go into default if you make the required payment on time, making minimum payments will cost you. A longer repayment term will cause more interest to accrue over the life of the loan. This will be more expensive than the standard 10-year repayment term.
Moreover, with certain repayment plans, such as income-driven repayment plans, you may be negatively amortized. This means the monthly payment is less than the new interest that accrues. The excess interest may be capitalized by adding it to the loan balance, which causes the loan amount to grow larger. If your loan payment is small enough, you will not make progress in paying off your debt.
Instead, choose the repayment plan with the highest monthly payment you can afford. This will save you money and pay off your debt quicker.
3. All federal student loans are the same
Federal student loans are not all the same. The differences can affect the cost and amount of debt. The most common type of federal loans for undergraduate students are the subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford loans.
- The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while you are enrolled in college on at least a half-time basis, during the grace period before repayment begins, and during any period of authorized deferment.
- In contrast, interest accrues on unsubsidized loans during the in-school and grace periods, and during any deferments and forbearances. Accrued but unpaid interest will be capitalized by adding it to the principal balance.
Federal Direct PLUS loans are unsubsidized federal student loans available to graduate students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. These loans have higher loan limits than Federal Direct Stafford loans, but they also carry a higher interest rate and loan fees.
Winston-Salem Foundation Need-Based Scholarships - Deadline July 31
Looking for more Scholarship opportunities? Check out the Winston-Salem Foundation's One-Stop Scholarship Application. The Foundation offers 125 scholarship funds to support students in a wide range of areas, helping pave the way to higher education for over 500 students each year.
- January 1: One-Stop Scholarship Application process opens
- April 1: deadline for most merit-based scholarships
- July 31: final deadline for financial need-based scholarships
(applications will be considered on a rolling basis in order of completion date)
READY TO APPLY?
Most scholarships are accessed through a One-Stop Scholarship Application. This means that you will be automatically considered for the scholarships for which you are eligible—with just one application. You’ll need to complete the application in full and provide supplemental materials. We’ll take it from there!
Here’s how the process works:
- Access the One-Stop Scholarship Application. You will create an online account that will be accessible to you any time - so you can save your work and return to it later.
- Complete the Basic Information and Qualifying Criteria and continue through the online application. Remember that your application is only complete once we receive all requested supplemental items. Be sure to meet the firm deadlines noted above.
- Receive notification of your scholarship(s). Merit-based scholarship awards are communicated in May, while need-based scholarships are awarded throughout the summer. Notifications are made by letter and email.
Questions? Contact The Winston Salem Foundation at (336) 231-0501 or wsfoundation.org