Writer: Kyle Pearson

Going to college is a big step, and when you only have thirty cents in your pocket and universities request thousands of dollars, one can become overwhelmed. The expectation of an eighteen-year-old to come up with enough money to pay for an education is seemingly ridiculous. Universities will insist they have many financial aid options and scholarships to help students pay for college. However, the process to utilize these rewards is endless. There are many problems with obtaining financial aid but with each issue there is a way to navigate through it smoothly.

Processing time

In order to get financial aid from a school, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much money you are eligible to receive from the government. One would think the process would be made easy for new students who have no idea what steps to take. Instead, it is an elaborate process that requires tax information that has little to do with the actual student. Once you have completed the FAFSA, you will find yourself waiting for it to be approved, and this process can take three to six weeks. A way to avoid waiting and wondering if your financial aid will ever come is to submit all your information as soon as possible. This way, it will be processed faster leading to you getting rewards sooner.

Lack of Communication

Be mindful of the possible lack of communication from the processing phase of the FAFSA administration. The only information you are given when submitting a FAFSA is a timestamp from when it was sent. The next update you will receive is weeks later when the information has been processed and your awards are given. The easiest way to avoid the stress while waiting is to submit your information as early as you can. In addition, you can call the financial aid office for the school you are attending, and they can make sure everyone is on the same page.

Rewards

For the most part, the FAFSA provides sufficient financial rewards to those who need it. However, this usually does not cover the entire cost for the college experience resulting in many students taking loans. This distribution of money is a set amount and is prioritized by who needs it most. A way to increase your chances of receiving financial aid is to aim for making consistently good grades or applying for any scholarship you can find. There are also ways to attend school and not use financial aid, but they prove to be much more expensive because one would have to set up a payment plan and consistently be working to make those payments. It is strongly recommended that all students who are unaware how they will pay for school seek financial aid.

Figuring out how to pay thousands of dollars for an education can be an incredible stress on a young adult. There are many helpful tools at your disposal that can ease this process. If you are struggling to figure out the next step, never be afraid to call the financial aid office of your school.

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