Eligibility – a student’s eligibility for financial aid is based primarily on his or her “financial need” which is defined as the difference between what it will cost the student to attend a particular school and the amount the student and parents are expected to be able to contribute toward that cost annually. This contribution is called expected family contribution (EFC). The financial aid system starts with the premise that the student and parents bear the primary responsibility for funding the student’s education, considering family size, income, and other factors that impact the family’s ability to pay for that education.
How is the Student’s EFC Determined?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary methodology in determining the EFC. All applicants seeking federal financial aid must complete this form. It is the only financial aid form that is required by all federally-aided two and four year colleges. The federal government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and college financial aid officers all utilize the results of the FAFSA to determine a family’s EFC. (Note: there is an expectation that the student will save some money every summer beginning with the summer prior to the start of the freshman year in college.) Financial need is the difference between the EFC and the total cost of attending a particular college for a given year.
The PROFILE – In addition to the FAFSA, many private two and four year institutions ask applicants to complete the ‘PROFILE’, which uses different information and methodology for determining the EFC (This methodology usually produces an EFC that is higher than the FAFSA EFC). The results of the PROFILE analysis are used to determine disbursement of institutional funds. Information from the PROFILE cannot be used to disburse federal funds.
Financial Aid Forms for Individual Institutions – Some institutions require that the applicant Complete an application specific to that school. This information is used to determine disbursement of the institution’s own funds.
Filing Dates for FAFSA and PROFILE:
The FAFSA may not be filed until after January 1 of the current school year, bus should be filed as soon after January 1 as possible. An early application will help get the best possible financial aid package. A good target date for filing is February 15. The FAFSA should be filed electronically. The address is www.fafsa.ed.gov. A limited supply of paper FAFSAs will be available at the Guidance Office sometime in early December.
PROFILE registration can be completed via telephone or at www.collegeboard.com. The initial registration should be completed as soon as an applicant knows all the schools to which he/she is planning to apply. While colleges can be added later for additional cost, it will be advantageous if the student can code in colleges to which they’re applying on the initial form. Once registered, students complete an online application or receive a paper version of the application. The online version is the fastest way to complete the process and is slightly less expensive. The application process should be completed and filed in time to meet the earliest deadline specified by any one of the colleges to which the student is applying.
Local Sources Of Financial Aid
Blackstone-Millville Regional High School distributed thousands of dollars last year. Applications are available in the Guidance office in April. All students pursuing further education are invited and urged to apply.
The Guidance Department would like to remind all male students of their legal obligation to register with the Selective Service when they reach 18 years of age. Failure to register is a federal criminal offense carrying penalties of up to $250,000 and five years in jail. Federal laws also prevent male students from obtaining federal financial aid and/or federal employment until they register. Students may complete the registration process by registering online at: www.sss.gov.
Sources of Help
College financial aid officers will staff a toll-free hotline during the last two weeks of January through the first two weeks of February. The phone number will be available in January.
The Higher Education Information Center at the Boston Public Library is a staffed source of help in filling out financial aid forms, locating private sources of scholarships, etc. Call to confirm hours, which have traditionally been Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The telephone number is 617-536-0200.
Blackstone-Millville Regional High School will sponsor a financial aid night in December each year. The specific date and time will be publicized via the website.
The Guidance Department recommends that you do not use any of the private scholarship services which may mail you forms ‘guaranteeing’ to locate sources of aid. The Department knows of no such program that justifies the expense If you decide to use one of these ‘guarantee’ services, find out exactly under what conditions you are entitled to a refund. Be forewarned that obtaining refunds from these companies can be difficult. There are a number of websites (provided in this packet) that provide free scholarship searches.
Strategies For Getting a Better Financial Aid Package
- Leave no stone unturned: Try all possible sources of financial aid. The more sources you explore, the greater your chance of success.
- Contact Each School: Look into financial aid possibilities at each school you are considering. Write to the financial aid office as soon as you send in your application for admission. Remember that applying for financial aid does not impact your chances of gaining acceptance by colleges.
- Apply Early: Apply for financial aid as early as possible. Though deadlines for individual schools vary, the application for Federal Student Aid can be sent any time after January 1. An early application will help you gain the best possible financial package possible.
- Apply and Reapply: Do not forget to apply for financial aid each and every year you are in school. Even if you receive aid during one year, you must reapply to get it for the next year.
- Get to know your financial aid officer: Establish a relationship with the financial aid officer. This way you can talk to someone you know if questions arise during the year.
- Be Prepared: Consider filing taxes as early in the year as possible. Do not wait until the April 15 deadline. You need information from your tax forms in order to complete the financial aid applications. It is better to input information from actual forms rather than to make estimates.