I’m Blaine Blontz of Financial Aid Coach, where we help navigate families through the financial aid process.
Considering we’re into April (how’d that happen?), let’s take a look at what’s happening around the world of financial aid at this time of year.
By this point, families with incoming college freshman are likely finalizing or have already completed financial aid forms, including the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Deadlines are approaching or just passed, and you are now left wondering what to expect next.
There may be a few additional steps before you receive your full financial aid award letters from schools. These may include uploading documents to IDOC for schools that require the CSS Profile. Schools could also require you to upload or submit documents through their student portal such as completed 2015 tax documents and transcripts, verification forms and more.
For The FAFSA, families that submitted the form as ‘Will File’ need to go back through and change to ‘Have Filed’ once their 2015 taxes are complete. Another step is using the Data Retrieval Tool to submit the completed taxes electronically, but remember that this won’t be available in most cases until three weeks after you file your taxes electronically.
In short, over the next two weeks, leading up to May 1, the date by which most schools expect an admission decision, you will be submitting additional forms and receiving financial aid award letters.
Once you have the award letters in hand there is an opportunity to negotiate. That’s right, you can negotiate the student’s financial aid received with schools. The schools treat this process like a business decision, and I encourage families to do the same.
Beyond that, families are also left to determine how to pay for whatever cost remains. While this can certainly seem like the most daunting activity, there are many options out there in addition to what your family has saved for college, including payment plans through schools and college and alternative loans.
Next up will discuss exactly HOW to go about negotiating student aid. In the meantime, check out Admissionado’s FAFSA action plan for parents and students, a blog post that looks at the recent changes to The FAFSA and outlines a plan for the families of both juniors and seniors in high school.
Need some help with a college application? That’s what we’re here for!