There’s so much information available about financial aid for college or career school that it can be hard to tell the facts from fiction. We’ve got you covered! Here are some common myths—and the real scoop—about financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.MYTH 1: My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.
FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income—such as your family size and your year in school—are taken into account.
TIP: When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well. In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!MYTH 2: The 2018–19 FAFSA® form launches on Jan. 1.
FACT: The 2018–19 FAFSA form launched on Oct. 1. You should submit a FAFSA form as early as possible because some states and schools have limited funds.MYTH 3: I should use my 2017 tax information to fill out the 2018–19 FAFSA® form.
FACT: You must use your 2016 tax information to complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form. (The requirements changed last year.) It doesn’t matter if you or your parents haven’t filed 2017 taxes yet, because the 2018–19 FAFSA form doesn’t need that information. You won’t have to update your FAFSA form after filing 2017 taxes either, because 2016 information is what’s required. If your financial situation has changed since 2016, complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form using the tax information it requires (2016), and then contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss the change in your situation. They can make updates to your FAFSA information if warranted.MYTH 4: I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA® form.
FACT: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. But if you’re dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.
If you’re a dependent student, find out who is considered your parent for FAFSA purposes. (It’s not as obvious as you might think.)MYTH 5: I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA® form.
FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.
You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do. If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in at fafsa.gov and submit a correction.
The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.MYTH 6: If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.
FACT: You still have options! If you’ve received federal, state, and college aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, check out these 7 options.MYTH 7: I should call “the FAFSA® people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.
FACT: No, you’ll have to contact your school. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid, so we won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it. You will have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it. Just keep in mind that each school has a different timeline for awarding financial aid.MYTH 8: There’s only one FAFSA® deadline and that’s not until June.
FACT: Nope! There are at least three deadlines you need to check: your state, school, and federal deadlines. You can find the state and federal deadlines at fafsa.gov. You’ll need to check your school’s website for their FAFSA deadline. If you’re applying to multiple schools, make sure to check all of their deadlines and apply by the earliest one. Also, if you’re applying to any scholarships that require the FAFSA form, they might have a different deadline as well! Even if your deadlines aren’t for a while, we recommend you fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any aid.MYTH 9: I only have fill out the FAFSA® form once.
FACT: You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.MYTH 10: I can share an FSA ID with my parent(s).
FACT: Nope, if you’re a dependent student, then two people will need their own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form online:
- You (the student)
- One of your parents
An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as fafsa.gov.
If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need his or her own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form electronically. If your parent has more than one child attending college, he or she can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. You’ll need a unique email address for each FSA ID.
Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!MYTH 11: Only students with good grades get financial aid.
FACT: While a high grade point average will help you get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when you first apply. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school.MYTH 12: It costs money to submit the FAFSA® form.
FACT: Absolutely not! You NEVER have to pay to complete the FAFSA form when you go to fafsa.gov. If you’re paying a fee, you’re not on the official government website.
So what’s next?
Go to fafsa.gov and fill out the application. If you applied for admission to a college or career school and have been accepted, and you listed that school on your FAFSA form, the school will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper financial aid offer telling you how much aid you’re eligible for at the school.
Mia Johnson is a Management & Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
The post 12 Myths About the FAFSA® Form and Applying for Financial Aid appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
Having one child who is heading to college can be stressful, but having to help multiple children at the same time can feel like too much to manage. While I can’t save you from a forgotten application deadline or the “how to do your own laundry” lessons, hopefully, I can help make the financial aid part of the process run more smoothly with these tips:
An FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the financial aid process—from the first time your children fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA®) form until the time their loans are paid off. You AND each of your children will need your own FSA ID. Parents and students can create their FSA IDs here.
Note: Your FSA ID is associated with your Social Security number and is equivalent to your legal signature; therefore, each person can only have one FSA ID. If you are a parent, you will use the same FSA ID to sign each of your children’s FAFSA forms.
Each student and one parent need an FSA ID and each of your children will need to fill out a FAFSA. Your children will need to provide your (parent) information on their 2018–19 FAFSA forms unless they are going to graduate school, were born before January 1, 1995, or can answer “yes” to any of these questions.
Example: You have three children who are going to or who are in college. You’ll need four FSA IDs—one for you as the parent (only one parent needs an FSA ID) and one for each child. You’ll need to fill out three FAFSA forms, one for each child.Can I transfer my information from one child’s FAFSA form to another so I don’t have to re-enter it?
Yes! Once your first child’s FAFSA form is complete, you’ll get to a confirmation page. On the confirmation page, you’ll see a hyperlink that says, “transfer your parents’ information into a new FAFSA.” Make sure you have your pop-up blocker turned off and click that link.
TIP: If you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, your second child should have his/her FSA ID handy so you’re ready for the next step.
You’ll then see the alert below confirming that you want to transfer your information to another FAFSA.
Once you click “OK,” a new window will open allowing your other child to start his or her FAFSA form. We recommend that your child starts the FAFSA form by entering his or her FSA ID (not your FSA ID) using the option on the left in the image below. However, if you are starting your child’s FAFSA form, choose the option on the right and enter your child’s information.
IMPORTANT: Regardless of who starts the application from this screen, the FAFSA form remains the student’s application; so when the FAFSA form says “you” it means the student. If the FAFSA form is asking for parent information, it will specify that. When in doubt, refer to the left side of the screen. It will indicate whether you’re on a student page (blue) or a parent page (purple).
After you select the FAFSA form you’d like to complete and create a save key, you’ll be brought to the introduction page, which will indicate that parental data was copied into your second child’s FAFSA form.
Once you reach the parent information page, you will see your information pre-populated. Verify this info, proceed to sign and submit the FAFSA form, and you’re done!
NOTE: If you have a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) child who needs to fill out the FAFSA form and provide your information, repeat this process until you’ve finished all your children’s FAFSA forms.I have education savings accounts (529 plan, etc.) for my children. How do I report those on the FAFSA form?
You report the value of all education savings accounts owned by you, your child, or any other dependent children in your household as a parent investment. (Read “What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?” for more information.) If you have education savings accounts for multiple children, you must report the combined current value of those accounts, even if some of those children are not in college yet or are not completing a FAFSA form.
Example: Child 1 and 2 are filling out the FAFSA. Child 3 is in 8th grade. They each have 529 college savings plan accounts in their names.
- Child 1 account balance: $20,000
- Child 2 account balance: $13,000
- Child 3 account balance: $8,000
You would add $41,000 to any other parent investments you’re required to report and input it when asked, “What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?” on each of your children’s FAFSAs.How does having more than one child in college impact the amount of financial aid my children qualify for?
Having multiple children enrolled in college at the same time could have an impact on your children’s eligibility for need-based federal financial aid.
TIP: We often hear about families who choose not to fill out the FAFSA form again because they believe that they won’t qualify for grants or scholarships, especially if they did not qualify the previous year. This is a huge mistake, especially if you will have additional children entering college. Read on to learn why.
Cost of attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = financial need
Let’s break down this formula:
Cost of attendance: This will vary by school, so if you have two children attending different schools with different costs, their financial need may be different, even if their EFC is the same.
Expected Family Contribution: The information you provide on the FAFSA form is used to calculate your child’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a combination of how much a parent and student are expected to contribute towards the student’s cost to attend college. The EFC is not necessarily the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your child’s school to calculate how much financial aid he or she is eligible to receive. Since we recognize that a parent’s annual ability to pay doesn’t change as you have more children enroll in college, we divide the expected parent contribution portion by the number of children you expect to have in college.
Example: Let’s assume that all of your dependent children have identical financial information and that the calculated EFC assuming one child in college would be $10,000. Here’s how each child’s EFC would change depending on the number of family members attending college full-time.Number of dependent children in college full-time Each child’s EFC 1 $10,000 2 $5,000 3 $3,333 4 $2,500
Financial need: Please note that schools differ (sometimes greatly) in their ability to meet each student’s financial need. To compare average school costs schools based on family income, visit the CollegeScorecard.ed.gov.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
Photo by Getty Images
The post How to Fill Out the FAFSA When You Have More Than One Child in College appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
Photo credit: Heidi Markley Photography
National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 24-30, 2017) is a big opportunity to come together as a field to celebrate adult education and to raise awareness of the 36 million adult learners across the nation who are in need of assistance.
Of the 36 million adult learners, the U.S. Department of Education’s Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) program, enacted as Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), serves 1.5 million adults each year under. WIOA is the primary federal program that provides foundation skills to those who are below the postsecondary level and English literacy instruction for out of-school youth and adults over the age of 16.
Education is and continues to be the pathway to success. The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) supports programs through WIOA funding that assist adult students in acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to become productive workers, parents and citizens—and that help them transition to postsecondary education and lifelong learning and training.
Among its many efforts, OCTAE has long participated in visits to programs across the country that exemplify the work of programs that support the diverse needs of adult learners.
Highlighted here are two students whose stories represent both their successes and those of programs that supported them.
Paul “Reggie” Bryant, age 68, shown at left and with his diploma at the top of this post, attended the Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School (AoH), and recently gave the keynote address at his graduation, in which he recognized his peers and their accomplishments. In his address, Reggie shared with the audience that he had spent most of his life just miles away from the Academy of Hope but “the journey to graduation was a long one.” Like many adult learners, Reggie has exceeded the age of a typical high school graduate. But his story—which includes serious battles with addiction, brief periods of incarceration, and a misdiagnosed learning disorder—are not unfamiliar to the teachers supporting these students’ efforts and the students enrolled in the Academy, many of whom share similar journeys and accomplishments.
When Tiffanie, age 62, who graduated from the Goodwill Excel Center, was a senior in high school she experienced a family tragedy leading her to isolating herself from her regular life routines. She left high school and began working. She struggled to subsist, living paycheck to paycheck. Now a mother, Tiffanie has emphasized the value of an education to her daughter—and returned to school. She shared the following: “I wanted to provide more for her and I knew education was the path for that.” She has since graduated from the Goodwill Excel Center and is now attending the University of the District of Columbia, studying Early Childhood Development—with the goal of becoming a teacher.
As these two student stories exemplify, the work of programs across the nation are making a profound difference in the lives of adult learners. These learners are able to be more solvent financially and to care for their families, be more actively engaged in their communities and as citizens, and are better able to continue to sustain their competitiveness and employability in a changing marketplace. Unfortunately their successes are the exception since one in six adults in the U.S. lacks basic reading skills and cannot read a job application, understand basic written instructions, or navigate the Internet.
Tiffanie’s decisions and her accomplishments will continue to affect her daughter. Large-scale international and national surveys of student achievement reveal that children with parents who have lower levels of educational attainment tend to have fewer socioeconomic advantages and score lower on academic assessments and those whose parents have higher levels of educational attainment often have greater socioeconomic advantages and score higher on academic assessments. Non-traditional students, like Tiffanie and Reggie, serve as powerful role models and exemplars for the power of lifelong learning.
As these two adult students’ stories suggest, individuals have a diverse range of opportunities available to them in which they can explore leaning opportunities, whether it is through the completion of a degree or via libraries, online courses, such as massive open online courses (MOOC), professional development programs, podcasts and other types of learning options.
In sum: “[E]ducation is life—not merely preparation for an unknown kind of future living… The whole of life is learning, therefore education can have no endings. This new venture is called adult education not because it is confined to adults but because adulthood, maturity, defines its limits…” (Lindeman The Meaning of Adult Education. 1926: 4-5).
Are you a lifelong learner with a story to share? OCTAE would appreciate hearing from you, and possibly featuring your story in a future blog post.
Joseph Perez is a Management and Program Analyst in the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
Hello and welcome to today’s WCET Frontiers blog post, with guest author John Gillmore, Research Fellow with the Institute for Learning Environment Design at the University of Central Oklahoma. John is here to discuss a new system of course, program, and curriculum innovation: the LEM model. This is an exciting example of innovation in higher education directly benefiting the learning success of our students.
Thank you John for explaining this new model for us!
Enjoy the day and enjoy the read,
~Lindsey Downs, WCET
The landscape in higher education is changing. Colleges and universities are having to reexamine traditional practices and consider new ways of doing things. This takes something called “innovation.” Innovation is somewhat of a buzzword these days, but the only way to adapt to this new ecosystem is to come up with new ideas or methods. So how do you support innovation in academia, a sector that is known to be quite rigid in structure?How are Higher Education Institutions Addressing Innovation?
Higher education institutions are approaching the problem in different ways. Some are outsourcing their change management to publishers, technology companies, or consultants. This is an expensive and risky proposition with mixed results. Others attempt to tackle the problem on their own, but they often find that planning and leading change initiatives prove to be too time consuming and challenging. Politics and good-old-fashioned resistance to change are typically the victors of these efforts.Introducing Learning Environment Design for Innovation
In response to these challenges, The University of Central Oklahoma has developed something called the Learning Environment Design for Innovation (LEDi) model. LEDi, a concept based in Design Thinking, provides leaders, learning designers, and facilitators with a simple and straight forward process for implementing course, program, and curriculum innovations. The system provides value by promoting relevant and effective learning that is planned and implemented efficiently.Why It Was Developed
The system was borne from the need to effectively plan and communicate learning designs. Like many academics that have attempted this before, we found the lack of a universal medium frustrating. Fortunately, an important communication breakthrough facilitated both of these things and paved the way for the LEDi system: a revolutionary visual design method called Learning Environment Modeling™.
Learning Environment Modeling™ is an easy-to-use tool for designing all levels of learning – from courses to programs to institutional curriculum. It also enables users to communicate these designs easily and effectively. LEM is elegant in its simplicity and new users are able to learn LEM very quickly.How It’s Being Used
The system is being used successfully at UCO for all types of curriculum design. Individual UCO departments are using the system to collaborate, redesign, and align programs with impressive efficiency and effectiveness. As an added benefit, those charged with leading assessment procedures appreciate the level of precision in the learning blueprints – this makes it easy to show how curriculum links to learning outcomes.
In addition, UCO instructional designers use LEDi and Learning Environment Modeling™ to develop and design every new and renewed online course. This system allows instructional designers to focus on learning design instead of being simply “course builders.” LEDi and Learning Environment Modeling™ promote effective learning design and collaboration. When using this system, faculty and designers come away with a better understanding of the environment and a higher level of confidence.So Effective, We Began Sharing It with Others
Our efforts with LEDi and Learning Environment Modeling™ were so successful, we began sharing it with other institutions, first with other Oklahoma colleges and universities, and more recently with those in other states. To accommodate these efforts, UCO launched the Institute for Learning Environment Design, or ILED. ILED provides training and consulting using LEDi and Learning Environment Modeling™. In addition, ILED offers the Certified Learning Environment Architect™ program: a professional credential-of-choice designed for leaders who are responsible for facilitating academic innovation. See our university website for more information, or to order the Learning Designer’s Guide to LEM book at http://iled.uco.edu.
Institute for Learning Environment Design
University of Central Oklahoma
Congratulations! You submitted your 2018–19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form! Wondering what happens next? Here are a few things to look out for:
After you complete the FAFSA form online and click “SUBMIT,” you’ll see a confirmation page like the one below. This is not your financial aid offer. You’ll get that separately from the school(s) you apply to and get into. Your school(s) calculate your aid.
The confirmation page provides federal aid estimates based on the information you provided on your FAFSA form. It’s important to know that these figures are truly estimates and assume the information you provided on the FAFSA form is correct. To calculate the actual amount of aid you’re eligible for, your school will take into account other factors, such as the cost to attend the school. Additionally, these estimates only take into account federal aid and not outside scholarships or state and institutional financial assistance you may also be eligible for.TIP: Each school you are accepted to and include on your FAFSA form will send you a financial aid offer. Until you receive this notification, it may be difficult to know exactly how much aid you might be eligible to receive from a specific school. To get an idea of how much aid schools tend to give depending on your family’s income, visit CollegeScorecard.ed.gov and type in the school(s) you want to look up.
The information you report on your FAFSA form is used to calculate your EFC. It’s very important to note that the EFC, in most cases, is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college. Instead, the EFC is an index number used by financial aid offices to calculate your financial need. The formula they use is:
Cost of attendance
– Expected family contribution
Your financial “need”
Each school will do its best to meet your financial need. Some schools may meet 100% of your financial need, and other schools may only meet 10%—it just depends on the school and the financial aid they have available that year. You should complete the FAFSA form annually because there are many factors that can change from year to year.NOTE: Contrary to popular belief, the EFC formula considers more than just income. Factors such as dependency status, family size, and the number of family members who will attend college are just a few of the additional factors considered. 3. Apply For as Many Scholarships as You Can
As I mentioned previously, many schools won’t be able to meet your full financial need, so you’ll need a way to pay the difference between the financial aid your school offers and what the school costs. Scholarships are a great way to fill the gap. (Who doesn’t like free money?)
But don’t wait until after you receive your financial aid offer to start applying for scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships out there, but many have early deadlines. Set a goal for yourself; for example, maybe you aim to apply to one scholarship per week. There’s tons of free money, but you can’t get it unless you apply. Make scholarship applications your focus while you wait for your financial aid offer. The applications may take some time, but the possible pay out makes it all worth it.
If you still don’t have enough money to pay for school after financial aid and scholarships, consider these options.4. Be On the Lookout for Your Aid Offer(s)
The 2018–19 FAFSA form is available on Oct. 1, 2017. Even if you submit it early, that doesn’t mean you’ll get an aid offer right away. Each school has a different schedule for awarding and paying out financial aid.
Remember that your school disburses your aid, not the “FAFSA people” (Federal Student Aid). Contact your school’s financial aid office for details about when they send out aid offers. If you want to see an estimate of your school’s average annual cost, use the College Scorecard. If you want to report significant changes in your family or financial situation, contact your school’s financial aid office.TIP: After your FAFSA form has been processed successfully, it’s a good idea to make sure the schools you listed on your FAFSA form have received everything they need. You should find out if your school requires additional applications or documentation and submit any required documentation by the appropriate deadlines. 5. Make FAFSA® Corrections If You Need To
Lastly, after your FAFSA form has been processed (which takes about 3 days), you can go back and submit a correction to certain fields. This includes correcting a typo or adding another school to receive your FAFSA information. Log in with your FSA ID, and then click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these steps.
Sandra Vuong is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.
Photo by Andrew Jones, Department of Education.