For all students planning to attend college or vocational school this coming fall, January is prime time to apply for financial aid. All information must be filed prior to March 1st in order to be eligible for grants, subsidized loans, or work/study during the fall semester. A handful of colleges award their own scholarships on a priority basis starting on February 1st: it is worthwhile to check the “priority deadline” for the colleges to which you have applied.
If you plan to continue your education after high school graduation, you should apply for federal financial aid (step 1 below). Even if you think family income is too high to qualify for aid, you may still be eligible for departmental scholarships, work/study campus jobs, or lower interest loans for students and parents.
First step -- All students should complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the basis for all federal and state grants, subsidized loans, and campus employment. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to get started with the application. The FAFSA on the Web Worksheet (which you can download and print) should help you with the process. DO NOT MAIL THE WORKSHEET: the application itself will be made online. You may receive mailings or emails from private, for-profit companies who offer their assistance in this process; however, the official FAFSA website has all the information you need at no cost. Important deadline: March 1st!
Second step – Students from lower and middle-income families who plan to attend California schools should proceed to the Cal Grant application. Go to www.calgrants.org to get started. This is a much less complicated process, and it is also free: once you have completed the FAFSA application, you have already done most of the work. The Cal Grant online form ask for GPA verification, which will be submitted for all current twelfth graders attending Venture and other district schools. (Eleventh graders graduating this year must print a hard copy of the GPA Verification Form and bring it to me for completion.) Important deadline: March 1st!
Third step – Students who are applying to private colleges and universities may be required to complete the CSS Financial Aid Profile, which can be submitted at any time. The CSS Profile is used to determine eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution’s own grants, loans, and scholarships. File online at www.student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile. A basic fee is charged for the profile plus an additional fee for each campus selected.
Fourth step – Some large companies, service organizations, union or professional groups, and fraternal organizations offer scholarships to the children of their employees and members. It’s worthwhile to investigate and use your connections.
Other helpful websites:
www.finaid.org (an overview of types of aid, advice, tools, and application links)
www.studentaid.gov/checklist (site contains other helpful links)
www.dvhigh.net (Click on the Academics tab and go to the Counseling and Career Center link on the dropdown menu. You can view the powerpoint from the Financial Aid Night presentation in December.)
And if you get frustrated or have questions….please feel free to contact Lucy Daggett either by phone (925-479-1215) or email (LDaggett@srvusd.net).