By Hana Ruiz and Isabella Wolfe, Clarion Staff
Going from 12 years of free public school education to now having to pay for college is a drastic change for many students. In high school you can change or drop a class without financial consequences, but in college there are fees that are attached to any changes in your class schedule. Each class depending on the school and the amount of units will have a cost attached to taking that class.
As our high school education comes to an end, some of us have been thinking about college, but how does one pay for college? Financial aid is a process that most students don’t worry about until senior year, but for underclassmen who may want to know more about this mysterious activity in advance, it might be wise to educate yourself. Kennedy counselor Mrs. Anderson provided some insight, “Lowerclassmen can’t really prepare but they can find prior knowledge from counselors, upperclassmen, and off-campus knowledge as well.” The answer lies with financial aid.
Let’s start with the basics.
Financial aid is money that is used to pay for college, and comes in the form of scholarships, grants, or money directly from the government for students who qualify. Students who are planning to go to college and cannot afford the fees can apply for financial aid. Specifically, most students apply through free application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA), a platform for students to receive assistance from the federal government or borrow money (student loans) via the platform.
CAL Soap is a group that introduces Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) and informs students about different options for financial aid depending on their situation.
Students can apply online for the aid on FAFSA website (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa). The application for FAFSA opens on October 1st and ends on March 2nd, students and parents are required to start an account with FAFSA. As a precaution, students should NOT apply for FAFSA on any other website besides the one provided because there are scams and they can steal your information.
The application requires students to enter their personal and family information, such as social security, tax information, choice of colleges, etc. The application requires a parent’s tax return information from two years prior. Jasnie Nath (Class of 2019) applied for the FAFSA 2019-2020, saying that FAFSA was really difficult because my parents are really protective with our personal information and I was busy with school too. Eventually, I got it done in time, so I think time management really helps.”
Once the application is completed, the student and their parents must review the information before submitting it. The student and one of their parents can sign the application electronically and submit it. However, if the parent of the student doesn’t have a social security number, the student has to print out a form at the very end of the application for their parent to sign and mail it through the U.S. postal service.
If successful, expect to receive an email immediately confirming your submission. FAFSA will contact you within a month to tell you how much financial aid you are eligible for or confirm with you any grants or scholarships you may have received. If you are not eligible for free aid from the government, or receiving only partial aid, you can borrow money using the same platform.
College applications and financial aid can be stressful process.
High school students of all ages should do their best to stay on top of deadlines and be informed. Seniors it doesn’t end after one year, remember that FAFSA has to be filed every year. For everyone else, make sure that you are well versed in college and financial aid vocabulary.