Financial Aid and Scholarships 101

Want to apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships, but not sure where to start? Join former Admissions Officer, Ashly Cargle-Thompson, as she provides an overview on everything you need to know about financial aid and scholarships. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 07/13/2022
Duration 1:07:21

Webinar Transcription

2022-07-13 – Financial Aid and Scholarships 101

Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Financial Aid and Scholarships 101. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the side bar, you can download the slides and you can start some of your questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our panelist.

Hey everyone. My name’s Ashly Cargle-Thompson. I am a former admissions officer here at CollegeAdvisor. Uh, before I started at CollegeAdvisor, I worked at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s where I’m still based. Uh, and I did a lot of work focusing on financial aid and helping students figure out financial plans, um, in order to afford their education.

So it’s a part of the admissions process that I’m really passionate about. Um, it’s something that I. A lot of times, if we demystify it early, uh, that we will be able to, uh, make greater gains. Um, and so I’m really excited that you all came to join us, uh, to talk about financial aid, definitely. And real quick, we’re just gonna do a quick poll.

So what grade are you going into this fall? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the year that your, um, child is going into. And while we wait for those answers, Roland, Ashly, can you tell us a bit about what students can do now to get ahead on applying for financial aid and scholar?

Yeah. So a lot of it does depend on where you are in the college admissions process. Uh, if you are a ninth grader, um, it’s good to just kind of start feeling out schools and understand what things in different schools are important to you so that you understand what sorts of price points you’re looking at for school.

Um, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that the kinds of schools that you love are not the schools that your family can afford. Um, so that’s something that you can do very, very early on. And when you’re looking at schools always look at how much it costs and have a conversation with your family.

You know, what is a reasonable cost? What’s something that we can make work, um, as a family, in terms of selecting a school, if you are a little bit older sophomore year and up, it’s a good time to start researching what scholarships are out there. Sophomores can’t really apply for much, uh, college funding, but you can familiarize yourself with the process.

There are a few larger national scholarships, uh, like the Coca-Cola scholarship, for example, um, that come around every year and are really important. And so even doing something as simple as just looking at the application and understanding what they’re asking for, so that you can make appropriate decisions, uh, further on in your high school career, uh, to be a good candidate for those sorts of scholarships is a good idea.

Um, and juniors, we’re gonna talk a lot juniors and rising seniors. We’re gonna talk a lot later on about, uh, the different things that you could be doing and looking at. Definitely. So it’s looking like we have 9% 10th graders, uh, 22% 11th graders, 66% 12th graders making up the majority and 3% other.

Great. Yeah. And you can control the slides. Okay. So this is basically set up like a frequently asked question, uh, kinda seminar. So I’m trying to figure out or trying to address the things that are asked of me the most often so that you can get that stuff out of the way. And then when it comes time to talk about your specific circumstances with your advisor or with our financial aid team, you can dig right into it.

So the first thing, and, uh, and McKenzie already asked, what’s a good time to start thinking about financial aid. It is always a good time to start thinking about financial aid. As long as you’re thinking about college, financial aid should be a part of that, um, juniors and rising seniors. Um, Right now is a perfect time to really start laying the groundwork, uh, for the financial aid process.

If you are a rising senior, it is super critical that you do a couple of things, uh, to make sure that you really understand what the process is, what the timelines are and what financial aid is and how it works. Um, a lot of times people think of financial aid just as how much money am I gonna get, but there’s a lot more to it.

And what makes it confusing sometimes is that we find out there’s a lot more to it as we go, as opposed to ahead of time. Another thing that is really important, actually for all families and all students is to know what your non-negotiables are, know which things in a school have to be there. If you are interested in being an engineer, it is a non-negotiable that the schools that you’re looking at have a strong engineering program.

Um, the same thing is true with different elements of financial aid. Are you willing to borrow loans or is borrowing a loan, something that you are unwilling to do and that your family is unwilling to do, and that your parents are unwilling to support. And if that’s the case, there’s no good or bad way to approach loans, but it’s important to know.

Um, also you want to use those non-negotiables to help you develop an appropriate college list. So some of you who are already in the process of making a college list, you know, what sorts of things you’re looking at, obviously you’re looking at academic programs, you’re looking at location. Um, you’re looking at kind of the culture of the university.

It’s important also though, that based on your financial aid non-negotiable so basically what’s a good price point for us. Are we willing to borrow money? Are there any state scholarships or fellowships that we would be eligible for? If we stayed in state that type of thing. Make sure that your college list is aware of those sorts of things.

So it doesn’t do you any good to build this non-negotiables list and then apply to colleges that every single one of them would be a financial reach. So in the same way that you have reach schools and you have good middle ground kind of balanced schools, and then you have safety schools, you can do the same thing with financial aid, um, and then finally avoid getting in over your head by trying to do too much all at once.

So what I mean by that is what can tend to happen is especially with external scholarships. Um, we can wait till the last minute or when we do our search, we’re trying to find a scholarship, apply for the scholarship. Submit it a few days before the deadline. Streamline your paperwork and application processes, familiarize yourself with all of the different points that you’re going to have to hit when it comes to be October of your senior year and do as much pre-work as you possibly can so that you aren’t struggling through, um, your financial aid responsibilities at the same time that you’re also trying to write your essays.

The other thing that people always want to know is really what is the difference between financial aid, scholarships grants. Uh, you might hear those words being used interchangeably, or you might think they’re being used interchangeably, but they all have their own definition. So financial aid is an umbrella term.

Anything that has to do with covering the cost of college and affording the cost of college is part of the financial aid ecosystem. So that’s your scholarships, that’s your grants. That’s your work study. That’s loans. Anything that falls under, how am I going to pay for college ends up being part of financial aid package.

Even your family’s contribution is part of financial aid. When we talk about scholarships and grants, really the shorthand for that is free money. Scholarships and grants are funds that are given to you to supplement or completely cover the cost of your education without the responsibility or the expectation that you will have to pay it back.

Um, there’s three, there’s two major kinds of scholarships. That you can get scholarships are usually when people talk about them. Um, they’re usually merit based. And so what they mean is that in order to be eligible, you have to meet certain academic and sometimes extracurricular criteria in order to be eligible.

And then you have to maintain a certain level of performance in order to stay eligible. Um, grants usually mean that there’s a need based component. So a scholarship, a merit based scholarship, it doesn’t matter what your financial situation is. It is really based on your performance and need based funds, often referred to as grants, especially when you’re looking kind of at federal aid means that there is a need component.

And so you have to have proven that your income meets the maximum criteria in order to be eligible for need based. But again, either one of those mean free money.

The other part of financial aid is loans. Um, and one of the first steps that you take in terms of applying for, or being considered for federal loans is to complete the FAFSA. Now, even if you don’t plan on borrowing loans, even if borrowing a loan is one of your non-negotiables, you’re still going to have to complete your FAFSA.

I can’t think of a college or university that invites you to not complete it. There’s a lot of good reasons on the institutional side that even students who aren’t borrowing. Need to complete the FAFSA. So just be prepared for that. That’s going to be a part of the admissions process for you. There will be a deadline set by your individual schools.

So make sure you also know what the FAFSA deadline is for that, but what the FAFSA is, it stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. And so what that is, is an online application that you can fill out and it has all sorts of information that you have to provide. So biographical information about the student, as well as the parents, financial information about the student, as well as the parent.

Um, it also requires you to download some tax documents. Normally you’re able to. Go through the FAFSA. Um, you’re able to import your most recent or not your most recent tax document, but the appropriate tax documents, um, directly into your FAFSA application. But sometimes you might have to do it manually.

So if you know, you have kind of complicated taxes or you have, um, you’ve had any sort of audits or things like that, those are reasons that it might not be pulling and you might have to enter it manually. Um, but you pull all that information together so that the department of education can formulate something that they call the EFC and that’s the estimated family contribution.

Or basically they’re trying to predict how much your family can afford to pay. And the reason that’s important is because that will dictate how much you’re eligible for in terms of need based aid. Um, need based aid can come from. The federal end. It can also come from the institutional end, but in both cases, they’re gonna use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility.

Um, there are some things to be aware of us citizens are non-eligible, or I’m sorry, are eligible. Non-citizens are able to complete the FAFSA and able to apply for a federal aid. Um, DACA, undocumented students, international students are not eligible to apply for us federal aid at this time. So if you are a us citizen or an eligible non-citizen, um, it’s really important that you plan to do the FAFSA and you familiarize yourself with it early.

Um, you can already start some parts of it now. The other big kind of financial aid document that you’re gonna have to fill out or not have to, but that you’ll see usually come across, um, your emails while you’re doing the college search is the college scholarship service. So that’s CSS for short. And basically what that is, is kind of like a common app for institutional awards.

So you have some schools, not every school, uh, does this. So there’s a group of schools, a pretty Sable group of schools, um, that use this document. And so you’re able to go in and fill out again. It’s gonna ask for biographical information. The CSS is gonna ask for a lot more, um, for a lot more, um, kind of personal information, it’ll ask about your non curriculars.

It’ll ask about, um, your interests, your major, all of that. It’s gonna ask a lot more than the FAFSA, which is really just concerned with the financial end. Um, but it’ll also ask you for financial information and for financial documentation. And what happens is all of that information gets pulled together and then sent out to any of the participating schools that you’re applying to.

And they use that information to determine what institutional awards you’re going to get. So you could be a us citizen applying for a federal aid and completing the FAFSA through that, and also completing a CSS profile. If you’re going to apply to a CSS, um, participating school, um, Also DACA, undocumented and international students are eligible for a lot of the funds that you would find, uh, through the CSS.

So I really encourage you as you’re building out that college list. And you know that one of your non-negotiables would be that you can’t borrow because you’re not eligible to borrow federal loans that it’s important to maybe consider having some CSS schools on your list because what the CS. Um, kind of process does for you is that it helps schools make sure that you aren’t leaving any money on the table.

It makes sure that they are asking you about everything that they need to know in order to determine your eligibility for all of the money they have available schools that don’t use the CSS profile have to glean that information from a lot of different sources. So they all glean it from your FAFSA.

They’ll glean it from your personal statement. They’ll glean it from whatever you know, information you provide on your application. And sometimes we leave gaps. If we’re not directly asked, we don’t know to tell people that so CSS profile is extra work and it’s not required for every single school, but it does.

It is another kind of safety net that ensures that you know that at these schools, I’m not leaving anything on the table. They know everything they need to know about me in order to get all of the funding I possibly can.

So the deadlines for the CSS and the FAFSA are October 1st, or I’m sorry, the October 1st is when the CSS and the FAFSA open. Um, so deadlines, like I said before are actually determined by the schools that you’re applying for. Um, some of them, most of them are sometime around early December. Um, and so you really are gonna be doing this at the same time that you’re gonna be doing your applications.

Um, so it’s important that when the FAFSA and CSS open for the 2023 academic year, that you’re ready to submit it as soon as possible. I recommend that you have a self-imposed deadline of November 15th, um, and that will ensure that you get it out and you’re not worrying about any of that part of the admissions process.

um, there are some things that, like that I said, like I said, there are some things that you can start on right away. So one thing that you can go and you can do it today is to create an FSA ID. The FSA ID is basically your electronic signature and idea identifier that you would use in order to access and complete the FAFSA.

Uh, so it will ask for a lot of biographical information, it will ask for things like your social security number. Um, so a lot of things to help them identify and verify that you are who you say you are, and you need to complete the. FSA ID in order to even start the FAFSA. It’s also important to know that the FAFSA is something that both the student and the parent or guardian are filling out together.

So there are gonna be portions of the FAFSA that the student that are asking about the students’ financial situation. And there are gonna be portions that are asking about the parent’s financial situation. Um, so in that light, both the parent and the student need to have some need to have their own FSA ID it’s also important that the FSA IDs, when you’re, when you’re creating those ID numbers for the parent and for the child, that they have different email addresses. So you have to have separate email addresses, separate FSA IDs for the student and for the parent or guardian, um, some of the other.

Documents that you’ll want to be able to get your hands on, um, are your social security number or alien registration number. So if you have an alien registration number, that is how you know that you’re an eligible non-citizen is it’s people that have been given an alien registration number. Um, the 2020 tax returns and W2’s um, bank statements, investment records, um, records of untaxed income.

And obviously again, your FSA ID this is also gonna be stuff that you need to complete the CSS. Um, Additional in addition to the things that you’ll need for the FAFSA. So the CSS you’ll need to go ahead and create a college board account. That’s something that you could do today. Um, the CSS also asks for more recent tax returns and W2’s um, and one of the things that makes that really nice is that the CSS is not just asking about what is your situation two years ago, and then making your decision, their decisions from there, they’ll look at that information, but they also want to know.

What is your situation now as close to now as possible? Um, they ask for records of current in income. So pay stubs, bank statements, that type of thing. And the good thing about that is that the, the FAFSA doesn’t always tell the whole picture. It asks a lot of questions and they have a really kind of clunky formula that they use to create the EFC.

But the CSS by asking for this additional information can say, okay, this is what the FAFSA figured out. But also with this additional information, we’d not only know kind of what the general picture is. We know what the day to day looks like. And that is really important, especially if, again, you’re looking for need based aid.

Um, do note that for the CSS that some colleges require will require, um, applications from both biological parents, if they’re divorced or separated, but there is a waiver process where the non-custodial parent or the parent who, um, you’re not living with primarily is able to, um, wave out of that. Um, if they’re unable to complete the application.

Um, let’s see. And so now we have another poll. Yeah. So real quick, uh, we just wanna ask, where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait through those answers, roll in, uh, what can parents do now, um, to get ahead on applying for financial aided and scholarships with their students?

Mm-hmm . It’s important for parents to really have that honest conversation with your students. Uh, the thing that you really want to avoid as a family, who’s kind of pursuing the college admissions process is to apply to a lot of schools, not get the financial aid packages that you need because all of the schools are kind of well outside of the budget or well, outside of what, um, the family might be comfortable supporting.

And now the student has gotten into a dream school and can’t go because they can’t afford it for one reason or the other. So having the conversation very early about, you know, these are our expectations as your parent, this is what we can afford to do to help you, or we, we aren’t able to help you. So you’re gonna, you’re gonna have to fund this on your own, um, making sure that.

Your student knows that now, so that they can start planning a college list and planning for a financial aid strategy that is actually realistically going to get them into a school. The other thing that you can do to help is make sure that as your students are looking for their schools and building out their college lists and kind of discovering their dream schools, make sure that you’re also encouraging them to look at schools that they might not have otherwise considered.

Um, and make sure that when we talk about safety schools, we’re not talking about them as they’re less than they’re just more stable. So we don’t really wanna talk so much about safety as stability because a lot of times those safety schools are great schools. And if it’s a financial aid safety school and your student can go without any sort of financial burden or the stress that comes with not knowing how they’re gonna cover their tuition and fees, um, then that makes for a better college experience.

So, um, really parents can help kind of keep the entire conversation realistic, keep it grounded, um, and make sure that you’re leading the way in terms of what you know, you can and can’t do and setting realistic expect. mm-hmm uh, and also, um, for parents that are, uh, helping their students apply for this year for the 2023 to 2024 school year, meaning you’re applying this fall, you will need the 2020 tax, um, documents.

Uh, every year it goes from the two years prior. So for students that are juniors, now, your parents will need the 2021 tax documents. And it’s looking like we have 24%. Haven’t started 52%. Our researching schools making up the majority 15% are working on their essays and 9% are getting their application materials together.

Wow. Good job. You guys are ahead of the curve. All right. So the next thing that I wanna talk to you about is, um, kind of how schools talk about their financial aid. Uh, and this is a place, this is one of the places where people can get tripped up or where ex incorrect expectations can start to be built.

Um, because financial aid offices use a very specific vocabulary to talk about what they can and can’t do and what their policies are. So one of the places where I see families get tripped up a lot is trying to understand the difference between need blind and need aware. Um, sometimes people think that they’re using, you can use them interchangeably and, and you absolutely can’t because they actually mean opposite things.

So when a school says that they’re need blind, it means that an app applicant’s ability. To pay does not factor into the admissions decision, meaning that they’re not looking at your financial documents, your EFC, any of that when they’re making the admissions decision. So it’s, it’s first of all, important to know that these terms need blind and need aware are admissions policies.

They’re not financial aid policies going to a need blind school. Doesn’t tell you anymore about what you might get in terms of financial aid than going to a need aware school. All they are saying is that we will not turn you away because of your ability to pay, because we won’t even know what it is when we’re looking through your admissions material.

On the other hand, need aware, schools are basically saying. We will look at your financial information during the admissions process, and it could factor into our ultimate decision. That doesn’t mean that it necessarily will. Um, but what they’re telling you is that it could, uh, and if you’re kind of wondering why would, you know, why would anybody be, need aware or need blind?

It’s really about schools being able to determine, um, how they’re using their endowed funds and you get more control over that when you’re need aware. But what we are seeing is that many, many, many more schools are need blind need aware is kind of something that, um, that’s on its way I think out of, of the financial aid culture.

Um, the, one of the other things in addition to not understanding that need blindness and need awareness are admissions policies, um, is that. The idea that, um, need aware schools are more accessible to low income students. So sometimes people will take that concept of need aware and kind of flip it and say, okay, if you’re looking for need, if you’re gonna admit me on the basis of financial need or that’s something that you’re factoring in, I’m more likely if I’m high need to get into a need aware school because I have high need.

Um, but that, that does not mean that they will, again, they’re saying that their need aware and that really they’re going to look at your finances and that could impact their, their decision.

The other place where things can get a little bit cloudy for people is this whole concept of meeting financial need. So you’re probably hearing those terms float around a lot, need blind meets a hundred percent of financial need. Um, and so basically what that is saying, if a school meets a hundred percent or meets full financial need is that they are committed to providing all admitted students with a financial aid package that covers the full cost of attendance, meaning that the financial aid package will cover room, board, tuition fees, um, incidentals, all of the things that kind of go into what it would cost for a student to go full time to that university and live on campus for a year.

Um, One of them misconceptions about that term, because that sounds great. Right? If I get in, I have a financial aid package, that’s going to pay it. But remember, grant, federal loans are a part of your financial aid package. So a commitment to meet full financial need does not mean that there won’t be loans included in your financial aid package.

And it also doesn’t mean that your family won’t be expected to pay because remember, anything that goes into paying for school is part of financial aid and part of your financial aid package, including your family’s contribution. So a school could will, and they do say, yes, we meet full financial need.

Then once they get all of your information, they’ll give you a scholarship. They’ll also in order to meet full financial need, give you the maximum number of. Of student loans of federal loans and approve you for that. And then they could also say, and, um, your family is expected to pay $12,000 a year because based on our calculations, that’s what your family can afford to pay.

So we’ve met all of your need except for that $12,000 cuz you didn’t need it. Um, so make sure again, when you’re applying for schools, when you’re setting your expectations for what it’s gonna mean to go to those schools, know that meeting full financial need is not a guarantee for covering the cost of attendance with no financial responsibility on your end.

A lot of the packages do include loans and a lot of the packages will include some sort of, um, family contribution. The other thing to know is that. The financial aid package, um, that schools who are meaningful financial need, uh, the, the formula that they use is often different than the formula that is used on the FAFSA.

So that means that on the FAFSA, you could see that you have zero need or your EFC is $0. So your high need, the highest need. You can’t afford to contribute anything toward your tuition. Um, but schools will often also calculate institutional needs. So based on the other information that they have, they’ll say, okay, well, our formula also factors in these other things, it also factors in the need.

across our student body, um, and not just kind of your general need in a vacuum and based on our student body, based on the other information we’ve collected, the FAFSA might have said that your EFC is zero, but we think that you can afford to pay three or $4,000 a year. So be prepared for that. That’s one of the places where students feel really left can feel really let down.

If they don’t know that is they’re applying to full need, um, schools, and then they get that financial aid package and it’s got loans and out of pocket payments, and now they have to scramble to figure out how they’re gonna do that.

So, how can you tell how much financial aid a school might give you before applying? Because that does leave a lot in the air. There are some ways that you can kind of start to predict, um, what it’s gonna cost to go to schools. The first thing is is that you can, there are EFC calculators that don’t require you to complete the FAFSA.

It’ll just ask you for some basic information. You don’t need to come up with the documents or anything like that. And it will give you an estimate of what your EFC is. It’s an estimate. So make sure that you understand that this is not exactly our EFC, but it will give you a sense of whether you’re high need, whether you’re low need.

So that you can kind of move forward with that and taking that information. And then also looking at the net cost calculators, uh, that they have at different, uh, financial aid websites for all of your schools will tell you not only what does it cost for tuition and fees and books, but also room and board travel the entire cost of attendance, um, that will allow you to take the cost of attendance, the information that you got from the EFC calculators.

And it’ll also ask for some other basic data and then that’ll help you again, predict based on that school COA. What your financial aid package might, might look like. The other thing that can really help at the very least seal the deal is if you’re looking at full schools that meet your full need, but also commit to debt free financial aid packages.

That means that we’ll meet a hundred percent of your need and loans will not be a part of that equation. Um, so if you know that much, then you at least know and are able to predict about how much free money you’re gonna get, um, from those schools. And then finally, the safest way to predict how much college is gonna cost is to look at state schools, um, in-state tuition programs.

Are really predictable. It’s publicly reported. Um, they operate on a tuition discount for in-state students as opposed to scholarships. So you’re not kind of left after applying, wondering, okay, am I gonna get this $20,000 scholarship I need? Because you already know as an in-state student, you’re gonna get this dis this giant discount.

Um, and that the likelihood of you getting more scholarships is significantly lower, but already your tuition has been discounted a lot. Um, also a lot of states have some sort of federal grant program for students attending college in their own state that will help cover the rest of the cost of tuition fees, and room and board.

So, if you want to be aware of what scholarships or financial aid, um, there is out there, there are some ways that you can kind of do that research as you’re crafting your college list. Uh, the big thing is, is that while you’re looking at looking for colleges and you’re looking at their curriculum and you’re looking at their student life, um, pages and looking at athletics or whatever it is that you’re looking at, also always go to the financial aid page, read the financial aid page and read it closely.

Um, you’ll wanna make sure that you understand what their tuition is and the cost of attendance. So tuition might be $30,000 a year, but once you add in fees, books, room and board, um, usually there’s some sort of technology fee type thing. Lots of all of the bells and whistles, um, that it would take to be a full time on campus student, then tuition might be $30,000, but the cost of attendance might be $58,000.

So, and the cost of, of attendance is really what it’s gonna cost you. Um, also look for those phrases, need blind, full need, zero debt. Those types of things will tell you again how those schools are gonna approach your financial aid package. Like I said, you can use the, um, net cost calculators that are usually on the financial aid websites for each of the schools.

Um, and then one of the things that I really recommend students do is contact admissions or financial aid, um, at the schools that you’re interested in now, not all of them. Um, once you kind of create your, your college list and you’re trying to narrow it down to. top three or four, then, then make those calls.

Um, but I wouldn’t recommend that you, you know, call 40 schools, financial aid offices, and talk to them, but you can ask them things like, can you tell me what the average financial aid package is for an incoming freshman? Um, what’s the average out of pocket cost for an incoming freshman? Um, you can also ask about what the average debt load is for their students and.

One question that they probably won’t be expecting, but it will clue them in that you kind of know what you’re talking about is to ask how pervasive it is that private loans are used among their undergraduate population. A high pervasiveness of private loans means that their financial aid packages are not covering enough of the cost of attendance to get their students there.

And that means that across the board, they’re really not doing that. Um, so it’s okay to ask these questions, universities have this information. Um, so it’s okay to ask the questions and it’s okay to lean into it a little bit. If you feel like you’re getting the run around, this is a huge investment that you’re about to make and you’re allowed and yeah, you’re allowed to seek transparency.

So. if you can’t find an answer about financial aid, if we’ve, you know, we’ve talked through all of this and you’re still like looking around, or maybe you’re one of our younger students who are on the call. And so you’ve got some years, um, and so you wanna get all the resources you can, there are a couple of resources that you really should go to.

One is if you have a college counselor, high school counselors can actually be really good resources for a lot of reasons, but they can also help you, um, with information about scholarships in terms of like what scholarships have people from our school been really successful at getting, right? So if you go to a fine art school and.

You know that, you know, your fine art school is pretty competitive. The college counselor should be able to say, oh, well, we’ve got, you know, last year we had three kids get scholarships at this school for music performance. Um, they have that information, they know that information. So that’s a good resource that you can use.

Also the admissions offices at the schools that you are talking to. I always recommend, or that you’re interested in. I always recommend that you go to an admissions office first, uh, because the financial aid offices at universities cover financial aid for the entire university. So they’re working with a lot of current students.

Oftentimes they’re also working with graduate students and professional students. So they aren’t equipped usually to talk directly to incoming students and ask some of these questions, your admissions office. Usually is, they usually have somebody who can address a lot of these questions that I’ve given you.

And if not, that person can be an in to connect you to someone in financial aid, um, and create and set up a meeting or at the very least some emails, um, back and forth so that you can talk to them that way. And then finally, a college advisor actually has a financial aid specialty team, um, where there are five of us, um, who all have worked in financial aid.

Actually, I’m the only one who’s not currently working in a financial aid position at a college, um, who are able to give you to do one on one private consultations, uh, for any students who need them. Um, Usually my recommendation for when to use that is if you are just really nervous about the FAFSA or the CSS, if you’re just like kind of, not a paperwork person, um, they will actually do, uh, FAFSA and CSS walkthroughs, meaning that we will share a screen and talk you through completing your FAFSA and complete it with you.

Um, so doing it at that point also, um, if you have questions about seeking external scholarships and what some, what are some good techniques for that? And then finally, the other time that this team can be really useful is when we have, once your admissions offers and financial aid packages start rolling in, if you need help kind of discerning what is in this financial aid package, what does it all mean?

And how does it compare to this other school? Uh, they can help you figure all of that out to and make sense of it.

And then finally, if I had to give all students looking at college and trying to figure out how to pay for college, a piece of advice, it would be to. Operate from a place of choice. You want to avoid feeling like you’re being ruled by your financial circumstances. And so that means that you want to create a college list and a financial age strategy and a plan, a financial plan that prioritizes flexibility allow yourself space to change your mind, allow yourself space to maybe have a rough start to your freshman year.

What you want to be able to do is have this entire experience and go where you need to go and go where you can thrive and not have the financial pressure of, I can’t make a mistake. I can’t be human because otherwise if I slip up once I’m gonna lose the scholarship. So the best way that you can do that is to diversify your funding sources absolutely apply for the big scholarships that cover it all.

Do it. I, I mean, there’s, there’s tons of benefits for that, but also in the meantime, apply for the smaller external scholarships. You should be applying for seven to 10 scholarships a month during your senior year. So ideally you wanna get like a hundred scholarships for external scholarships or a a hundred applications for external scholarships out during your senior year.

Um, and what that allows you to do is to piece your funding together from different sources, which means that by definition, it’s a flexible financial aid plan because it’s coming from different sources. A lot of times the smaller scholarships, um, Don’t have the same kind of oversight once you get into college that these larger ones do.

And so it leaves you that space to maybe pursue a different major, maybe even transfer and that, that way the funds transfer with you. So always make sure that you’re leaving yourself enough room to move and that you’re creating plans that are really flexible. And then finally, you know, like I said, reframe the idea of a safety school safety schools are not schools that you will dang to go to.

If you must, safety schools are absolutely great schools that are secure. It’s a secure bet. You know, that you’re going to get in there, or you’re very confident that you’re gonna get in there and it should also have all of the things that you want and need. So try and stay away from thinking of. Safety schools, whether they’re academic or financial safety schools, usually those are the state schools as anything less than the reach schools in terms of the experience that you could have and your ability to thrive there.

And I think we have some time for questions and answers. Yes. So that is the end of the, um, live, uh, presentation. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the site from the link in the handouts tab and this webinar is being recorded. So you’ll be able to view it [email protected], where you can set up, uh, sign up for a free account with us.

Um, moving on to live Q&A I’ll read through your questions. You submit in the Q&A tab and read them a lot before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up. If your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page.

Also known as the website or else you won’t get all the features of big marker. So just make sure you join through that custom link. Now let’s get started with the Q&A. okay. So for our first question, a student is asking, can we start filling out, uh, FAFSA and CSF if we are not, uh, if we do not yet know what schools we’re applying to?

Absolutely. You can always, so one, you still have to wait until October 1st to start filling out FAFSA and CSS, but when those applications open up, you don’t have to know everywhere that you’re going. Um, you do wanna make sure that you have your college list together enough that by the deadlines and by kind of late November, you know where you’re going.

Um, but if you fill it out and then out of nowhere, you decide, I actually really wanna add this school. You can always go back and add additional. Yes, it’s similar to how the common app is set up, where you add your schools on the list. And then, um, it sends to each school individually, the ones that are asking for it.

And then, um, you can send up to a max of 10 and then once you sent those 10, you can just sort of take them off and add your new schools. If you had more, that you are applying to. Yes. Okay. So going on to the next question, uh, how do I find out which schools require the CSS profile? So you can actually go to the CSS webpage.

Um, you could even just Google CSS profile, um, and they have a list of all of the schools participating in the CSS kind of application program. If you are an international student, they also identify which schools have funding specifically for international students. So you would wanna prioritize the schools that are CSS for international as well.

Yes. And the CSS profile is comprised of like between 300 and 400 private schools. So I don’t think any of the public schools are on it. And then, um, all of the Ivy’s are on it. So if you’re interested in an Ivy league, you will have to fill out the, um, CSS profile, uh, going on to the next question. Another student is asking, how do I find out if a school is, need blind or need aware?

So there’s two ways usually, uh, admissions officers, especially if it’s need blind will tell you over and over and over again, that they’re need blind. Um, but you can also usually find it on the financial aid page. It might take some digging. I know the one thing that’s kind of rough about financial aid pages is that they’re very text heavy and they have a lot of links and little.

Crevices to kind of try and find information. Um, so if you’re having a hard time finding it, your admissions officer and whoever it is that you’re kind of staying in touch with at those schools will be able to confirm whether they’re need blind or need aware, uh, going on to the next question. Another student’s asking are in-state and out-of-state tuition costs that universities list on, um, I’m not sure what that word is.

uh, for one academic year or for per semester. And are they the same, uh, same thing as cost of attendance. So it depends. Schools put that in for information out differently, depending on the school. Um, if it is for the semester, it will say per semester, if it is for, if they are only giving you the credit hour rate, it will say per credit hour, which is the most annoying one, because then you have to go and find out how many credit hours constitutes full time attendance, and then do the math yourself, um, usually on the same page.

So they’re always gonna separate, separate out their tuition and tell you about that by itself. But usually somewhere on the same page, they will also give you the cost of attendance, which is usually an itemized list. It tells you how much they’re estimating you’re gonna need for room and board for travel for computer needs, for books, um, lab fees, that type of thing.

Usually there’s a, um, There’s like a charge for transcripts on there. Um, they’ll itemize that out for you. So you kind of know how much it is. And then usually they will also kind of put it together with the tuition and fee, so you can see the full number, but if they don’t do that, um, then you can, you can add that yourself, um, in terms of what was the other part of the question?

Um, where did it, oh, sorry. Uh, publish. Uh, and are they the same thing as cost of attendance? Yeah. So tuition and cost of attendance are two different things. Um, if you had to look for one number, I would say, look for cost of attendance, um, because that gives you all of the information mm-hmm and cost of attendance at some schools may also include just cost of living.

So like getting dorm supplies, um, day to day needs transportation. Um, so that could vary per student, they try and average it. So you get a good idea. Uh, going on to the next question, uh, as a parent is ask a lot of parents have the 5 29 form. So they’re asking will having that, uh, hurt my child’s chances of getting enough financial aid to cover costs.

Um, it de it, it honestly, it depends, um, if you have a 5 29, but otherwise really, really, really low income, or have, um, sort of a financial exception where, you know, your, um, your finances from 2020, no longer reflect what your finances are now, um, then it, it, they pro it probably won’t hurt your child. So again, there’s a lot of factors in there, but if you, I would say go to, um, an EFC calculator and determine your need.

I would say anything above 10,000, an EFC of 10 or $15,000 puts you out of the high need or even need Cal like category. Um, anything above that, you’re going to probably fall into the pool that you’re not being prioritized for need. So if you fall into that pool and have a 5 29, then at the very least, what you know is that the possibility of getting need based aid is much lower for you, but that does not foreclose your ability to get merit based aid or external scholarships, uh, going on, uh, to the next question, a parent is asking if the income is substantially lower in 2022 than 2021, should you wait until 2023 to submit FSA for the 2023 to 2024, um, freshman year of college.

So like there’s a bit of confusion about, yeah. Yeah. So. In order to complete the FAFSA on time for the admissions process in order to attend school in fall 2023, you have to do it this year using the 2020 tax forms. Um, but there is an appeal process that can happen. So like I said, if for whatever reason, your financial documents from 2020 don’t reflect what your financial situation is now reasons for that are often unemployment, um, death or loss of a guardian, um, also health issues like significant health issues, anything that results in a major loss of income, um, are appealable.

So. You’re forced to use the 2020 tax documents. But once all of that is in, and once you submit your application to applications for admissions, to all of the schools that you’re interested in, you can then contact and they’ve create, and they’ve given you your financial aid package. If you believe that that financial aid package is not taking into an into account or cannot cover what you need it to cover, then you can appeal to those individual schools and give them more information about how the 2020, um, tax documents are not reflective of your current situation.

I always recommend to families, if you’re going to appeal, give them a budget of what you can do. Um, it’s really helpful. If you can say I can, we can’t, we can’t make this work, this financial aid package that you gave us, but, and because of these reasons, however, if we’re able to get our financial aid bumped up to whatever number is reasonable for you, we can afford to contribute X, Y, Z.

Um, then that usually gets you a pretty long way too, but no, do not hold off on submitting the FAFSA in order to have a tax return, that’s more reflective because it means that you would not be able to submit the FAFSA. And that’s usually a requirement, um, for a lot of schools, um, a requirement of admission.

Uh, going on to the next question, I’m gonna take this one. So a student is asking, does college, does the college advisor financial aid team services come with our NCSA membership or is that an additional cost? So a lot of students on the call right now are from NCS. A no, uh, your NCSA membership does not cover, um, getting the college advisor financial aid team services.

But if you sign up, um, with us at, you can set up a free account to really get started on your admissions process, where you can use all of our features of our website and our student portal. And then from there, you can, um, sign up for a free consultation with us in order to find out more about our packages and services that we offer, um, the different cost of each and then also what our other services are.

And by signing up for CollegeAdvisor to, um, you get you not only get, um, one-on-one advising sessions with an amazing advisor admissions expert, or even former admissions officer, you also get access to our other. Services such as our financial aid team, where you can have those one-on-one meetings, uh, to figure out your family’s financial aid situation.

Um, what options are good for you? We also have a college list building team who can help you with figuring out which schools are gonna be the best fit for you. Not only academically and socially, but also financially. So they, that is a really great resource. And then also just having the one-on-one advising sessions can really help with just easing, um, stress, getting, um, Getting your questions answered those very specific niche questions and getting the services and support that you need throughout the admissions process.

Cuz we know it can be overwhelming. Uh, college advisor is a great service. Um, in last year’s admission cycle, our students were accepted into Stanford at, um, three times the national rate and it’s accepted into Harvard at 4.4 times the national rate. So again, you can sign up for free consultation with us by going to, uh, and set up your free account.

Um, you can keep track of your college list, uh, deadlines and other parts of the application and do your research there and then also sign up for that free consultation. So, uh, yeah. Now back to the Q&A, it also gives you access to a really robust webinar library, webinars and articles. So a lot of the questions that you probably have, there’s probably already a webinar on it that you could watch.

Definitely. We have a lot of webinars on financial aid. So if you’re looking for more information at those, uh, definitely go to, and you can find our, uh, library of webinars and articles, uh, going onto the next question other than, uh, and we’re gonna go into scholarships now, cause that’s a big topic other than school co uh, the school counselor.

How can you find out about scholarships? So I’m gonna plug a service that I really love. It’s a free, um, kind of scholarship search provider. Um, it’s called going Mary and it’s again, completely free. But what I love about it is that it almost acts like a common app for the scholarship search process. So you go in, you create an account, it has this really detailed profile that you have to fill out.

Um, and I encourage you to make it as detailed as possible. And then it has, it matches you kind of based on what you put in that profile, it matches you with hundreds of scholarships. Um, that might be good for you. Things that make it unique though. Not only does it match you with it, but it also tells you how good of a match you are for that scholarship.

So meaning that if you are like a really good fit for what, what they’re going for, it’s gonna tell you have a hundred percent match and, you know, okay. I have to apply for that. Um, it also tells you in a really. Easy and fast way to kind of absorb, um, how long roughly the application is gonna take for you to fill out how much money is on the table for it.

Uh, and also the deadline. Um, the other really cool feature that they have is an auto match auto apply feature. So some applications don’t really require a whole lot. Some scholarship applications are shockingly easy and simple to fill out. Um, and so it will go through and find any of those applications that you’re a good match for.

Those are usually the smaller ones, the $500 to a thousand dollars kind of range. Um, and it will immediately match you with those and then use the information that you’ve already put into your profile to auto apply. So you will have applied for scholarships without having done anything other than create an application.

Um, they also have a really good library. Just kind of financial aid resources and, um, calculators and things like that. They have a really good, uh, kind of FAFSA walkthrough to help simplify that process. They have a really great budgeting tool on it. So, um, going married, this is, uh, we are not, this is not sponsored.

I just love it a lot. Uh, and it really streamlines the process. Um, and then also going to the individual schools that you’re interested in, again, their financial aid website will also usually have some sort of page or section on scholarships and grant scholarships, grants, internships, that type of thing.

Um, so you can read about what they have there as well. So that’s always a good resource and sometimes they will also link external scholarships that are a good fit for their students. Um, and then the other part, the other thing that you can look at is, um, Again, the department of education, there is a search engine there that you can go through and see what grants are out there.

Um, so again, free money, but those would be federal grants and you can actually apply for some of those separately as well. Mm-hmm so those are good. Those are good. Three places to start. Yes. And I added the link in the public chat. So if you wanted to get that, uh, going, uh, also, uh, a student asked, uh, does the FAFSA open October 1st, senior year?

Yes, it does really. It’s October 1st, every year. And it’s just happens to be whatever year you’re applying. And then also, um, if you’re trying to figure out which documents or which year you need for your specific applications, it will tell you on the actual FAFSA NCSS profile in case you forget. Going on to the next question.

Oh yeah. And then also, um, for scholarships, you can ask your school counselor, or you can, um, go to your, um, the county that your school is in’s website. So like I went to Gwinnett county school, so I would go to Gwinnett county, public Um, and then they have a list of scholarships for their specific county and some even have scholarships for specific high schools.

So like my high school had three scholarships available that were just for our students and nearly no one applied to them every year. So like, if you were the one person that applied to those, um, you would get it automatically. Um, just because no one really applies those. So also look at that. Oh, one other good tip is honors day.

So if you are a junior right now, pay attention at like this spring. If you’re a rising junior to the honors that are given out and the scholarships that are announced to the current senior class, um, because at the very least, that’s gonna tell you that somebody who had a very similar experience to you and a very similar curriculum got that money and keep note of that.

Definitely. And then also local, um, fraternity sororities tend to give out scholarships. Um, what else? Uh, there was, um, I can’t remember at the moment, but is there any, uh, last minute advice that you would like to give to students on scholarships or financial aid or anything really just do the, do as much legwork as you can today, get the FSA ID out of the way, get your, uh, college board.

Application or profile set up so that when October one comes around, um, you’re ready to go and you can just get that done. Um, and then the other thing is, remember, just let’s operate from a place of choice, make sure that you are setting your expectations and also building out a college list and an admission strategy that allows you to change your mind.

That allows you to be human, um, and allows you to not have to take a financial hit in order to be those things. Yes. And I remember what I was trying to say, uh, for specific majors, a lot of them have scholarships and grants, uh, specifically teaching and nursing have the most grants right now because of the shortage.

So if you’re interested in either of those as a major career, definitely look into those. Um, and then also different jobs such as Chick-fil-A, Publix Burger King. Um, depending if you wanna work in those jobs, uh, do offer scholarships to their, um, workers. Yeah. Oh really quickly. Sorry. I did see one question, like some athletic scholarship questions, which I can answer on a former college athlete.

Um, so the NCAA has a thing called the clearinghouse, just Google NCAA clearinghouse, and that lists all of the NCAA colleges and universities, um, that you would need to kind of make yourself visible to in order to be recruited for whatever sport. You are wanting to whatever sport you’re pursuing. Um, the Ivy’s do not offer athletic scholarships.

So if you’re interested in an Ivy, they don’t offer athletic scholarships. You’re gonna have to get in on merit and your funding would also have to be merit based. Um, I do think that they do try to make sure that athletes are not paying significant amounts out of pocket because you can’t work and be an athlete.

So they really do try, um, to make sure that you are matching with whatever funds they can. They can get you based on your academic profile. Um, do athletes still need to apply for financial aid? Yes. Yes. You have to submit a FAFSA no matter what, in order to get that big fat athletic scholarship, you still have to have a FAFSA.

So yeah, you’ll need to apply for financial aid no matter what. Thank you so much for those responses, we will probably need to have a separate webinar for, um, student athletes on the admissions process. Uh, but thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our wonderful panelists, Ashly, for all this great information on financial aid and scholarships.

Um, we hope you had a great time learning, um, for about financial aid and scholarships, and here’s the rest of our July series, where we’ll be going over different aspects of the application process, different application portals, and there will be, um, some panels and, um, college tours where you can figure out more about specific schools and specific programs, uh, for, especially for those who are currently building their college list or trying to figure out where they want to go.

So, um, definitely check out those and again, check out our other webinars on financial aid and scholarships as well as our blog. If you go to or I’m not sure if the blogs are loaded on the portal, but I know they’re on the website for sure. Um, so yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight.