While we believe that the cost of attending a college should not be the principal factor in creating your college list, the high price tag for today’s college education has become a serious factor in the final decision for many students and families. We strongly encourage you to begin discussing these issues as a family at the beginning of your college search. With tuition costs rising roughly five percent annually, higher education "sticker shock" is a common first reaction to the "going-to-college" process. However, before ruling out a school based on cost, families should consider the many opportunities available to them, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs and student loans and what the actual out-of-pocket cost will be.
There are many forms of financial assistance available. The most basic financial assistance offered at all colleges is need-based. Need-based financial assistance is given to families who demonstrate financial eligibility using nationally standardized needs-analysis forms, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. Demonstration of financial eligibility is determined through detailed review of a family’s net assets, salary, investment income, liabilities, home equity, and other factors.
Some colleges also offer merit-based assistance. Such financial assistance comes in the form of scholarships for students who have achieved superior levels of academic excellence or offer some special talent in the performing arts or athletics. Please note that while all of the most-highly competitive colleges and universities offer need-based assistance, only a handful offer any merit-based aid.
- What is financial aid?
- Applying for financial aid
- Financial aid elegibility
- How to apply for financial aid
- Where to find financial aid forms
- Financial aid night for students and their parents
Financial aid is help for meeting college costs: both direct educational costs (such as tuition, fees, and books) and personal living expenses (such as food, housing, and transportation). Sometimes students are surprised to discover that financial aid can help them pay for living expenses. Many students also don't realize that financial aid is often available to pay for technical or trade school programs.
Students should not rule out any college or post secondary education program that interests them on the basis of the costs of attendance alone. Many students and their families can't pay the full cost of education or training all by themselves. If students qualify for financial aid, they may get enough outside money to pay for the education they want, but couldn't otherwise afford on their own.
In order for you to be considered for financial aid from federal as well as non-federal sources, each college will specify which financial aid forms you and your parents should complete. Therefore, it is your responsibility to contact the Admissions or Financial Aid Office at every college you are considering for admission to verify and request the necessary forms that must be completed. In addition, you and your family must file the required forms by the specified deadline in order for you to be considered for financial aid.
Deadlines are very important! You should never assume that the form required by a few colleges will be the same form required by all the colleges to which you apply. Any oversights by you and/or your parents could jeopardize your receipt of financial assistance.
Financial aid eligibility is the difference between the cost of education and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A federal formula performs a needs analysis to determine the EFC.
To be eligible you must:
- Have financial need
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or pass an independently administered test approved by the U.S. Department of Education
- Be enrolled in an eligible program
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Register with the Selective Service, if required
- Complete forms as required
- Make satisfactory academic progress
Students can obtain a FAFSA from high school guidance offices, college financial aid
offices or public libraries. Students may also complete and submit the FAFSA on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov The easiest and most effective way of filling out the FAFSA is on line.
The student and parent must also obtain a PIN from www.pin.ed.gov before completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA cannot be filled out until after January 1st. Students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) after the FAFSA is processed. Information is also sent to the college(s) named on the FAFSA. If students do not receive a SAR in four to six weeks, or need another copy, they should call (319) 337-5665 for a duplicate SAR. For more information on the FAFSA visit http://www.princetonreview.com/fafsa.aspx.
The College Financial Aid Office will send an award letter to the accepted student
indicating the types of aid the student is eligible to receive.
Note: Special circumstances (such as changes in income and other factors affecting
eligibility) may be considered. If special circumstances arise, the student should submit a letter of explanation to the Financial Aid Office.
In addition to completing the FAFSA students must also complete and submit institutional financial aid forms if they are required by the college to which applications have been submitted to be considered for financial aid. Students are responsible for requesting these forms from the colleges when requesting official application materials. If the individual institutional financial aid forms are overlooked, students may not be eligible to receive institutional monies or additional financial assistance from that particular college. The deadlines for submitting the institutional financial aid forms may differ from college to college.
The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is required by some private colleges and universities.
Students can check the PROFILE form to see which schools require this application form.
This is a completely on-line process and can be accessed through collegeboard.com
The FAFSA is available on line in early December, but cannot be submitted before January 1st. If you need to submit the Family Financial Statement (FFS) or an institutional financial aid form to any of the colleges to which you apply, you must acquire these forms from the appropriate agency or college.
A Financial Aid Information Night for students and parents to assist families in better understanding the many financial options available for funding a college education will be offered in October, presenters from NHHEAF and VSAC will be in attendance. The evening program is free to you and your parents and no reservations are required should you choose to attend. Families are strongly encouraged to attend this important information program if you are planning to apply for financial aid and/or educational loan assistance.