Financial Aid Deep Dive

Are you worried about the rising cost of college education and wondering how you’ll be able to afford it? Don’t let financial barriers hinder your dreams of pursuing higher education! Our webinar, “Financial Aid Deep Dive,” is here to provide you with essential insights and strategies to navigate the world of financial assistance successfully.

Join admissions expert Ashly Cargle-Thompson for an informative and empowering webinar designed to assist high school students and their families in understanding the financial aid process. Ashly will guide you through the intricate process, helping you discover the multitude of opportunities available to fund your education without excessive student loan debt.

During this webinar, you will:

  1. Understand the financial aid process: Learn about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  2. Learn effective strategies for finding scholarships and grants: Uncover valuable resources, scholarship search engines, and tips for maximizing your chances of success.
  3. Get insider tips on avoiding scholarship scams and identifying legitimate opportunities.
  4. Discover the different types of scholarships and grants: Explore merit-based scholarships, need-based grants, athletic scholarships, specialized scholarships, and more. Gain insights into eligibility criteria and application requirements.
  5. Engage in a live Q&A session to address your specific questions and concerns directly with our expert.

Don’t let financial obstacles hinder your dreams of attending college! Join us for the “Financial Aid Deep Dive” webinar and gain the tools you need to make your education affordable. Register now and take a crucial step towards unlocking the doors to your future!

Date 10/16/2023
Duration 1:01:18

Webinar Transcription

2023-10-16 – Financial Aid Deep Dive

Lonnie: Hello, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisors webinar, “Financial Aid Deep Dive.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’re first going to begin with a presentation, and then we’ll have an opportunity to answer your questions in the Q&A tab. If you would like to download the slides, you can access them by clicking on the handouts tab and then downloading them directly to your computer.

So with that, let’s introduce our panelist.

Ashly: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Financial Aid Deep Dive for the 2023 2024 admissions cycle. My name is Ashly Cargle-Thompson, and I am not only a former admissions officer here at CollegeAdvisor, but I’m also the team lead for the Financial Aid Milestone Team. So I head up a team. There’s about six of us.

We’re all former, uh, financial aid administrators, former or current, uh, at the collegiate level. Level. And so what we bring to the table is not only information and experience on how to get you to the through the first phase of financial aid, but we’re also trying to advise with our, um, considering the fact that financial aid is the only part of the finance of the admissions process that doesn’t end with that admit letter.

It’s actually when it kind of starts. Uh, so That is a little bit about me. Uh, let’s get into what I’m hoping to do today in this deep dive. Uh, first we’ll talk about kind of just the basics of financial aid, get you acquainted with some of the main terms, um, things to, Kind of look out for making sure that we’re demystifying some of those terms.

And then I’m going to dig into the FAFSA and CSS profile a bit. A lot of you probably already know that the FAFSA is going to be different this year. It’s also delayed a bit. So we’re going to discuss some things so that I can kind of prime you for what that new FAFSA is going to look like and what to expect.

The CSS profile is open now. So, um, We’ll also get to some things that you should be able to prepare so that you can get going on that. Um, I’ll also talk about some of the main financial aid and admissions policies that you’ll want to know and make sure that you understand before you make kind of final decisions on where you’re going to apply what.

Decision around you’re going to apply for and then finally, I will also mention some things about international students and financial aid for that. And then I’ll end with some pro tips. So this is going to move relatively fast. Um, we usually keep the slide deck in our handouts. So please make sure you hang on to that.

Because, um, there will be information and there may be more detail than what we get in the presentation. If you have questions, also feel free to put them in the Q& A box or, uh, in the chat and we will get to them during Q& A. So what is financial aid? What are the differences between financial aid, scholarships, grants?

Those are all terms that I think people sometimes tend to use interchangeably, but I want to make sure that we understand the differences between those terms. So first of all, financial aid is an umbrella term. That is the term that we use for any resource or process through which you fund your education.

So loans are financial aid, grants are financial aid, the out of pocket payment as part of your financial aid, work study, anything that you’re using to pay for your tuition, cost of attendance, any of that is considered financial aid. Scholarships and grants, however, are The really important parts of financial aid because scholarships and grants represent free money.

Um, they can be used interchangeably, but normally we want to differentiate between scholarships and grants where scholarships are merit based, meaning that there is either that there’s some sort of performance oriented or, um, Um, non financial oriented, uh, eligibility criteria in order to get it. So, um, not only are academic scholarships merit based, but scholarships based on, uh, participation maybe in an organization or scholarships based on, um, what school district you’re from, those are all considered merit based.

Grants. Are usually an ideally need based fund. So that means that there is a financial criteria for there’s financial eligibility criteria. So you cannot exceed a certain amount of whether it’s income, um, whether it’s, you know, Um, usually it’s just income, uh, in order to be eligible for grants. So really all you need to know is that scholarships and grants are free money.

Scholarships are merit based. Grants are need based. In terms of when you should start thinking about all of these things, I would say immediately. My hunch is that, uh, The majority of the people on this, uh, webinar are seniors or have, uh, have seniors, and so you’re looking at this financial aid year, but usually we do have some juniors, sophomores, even freshmen come to these, uh, to these webinars, and for anyone who’s here, You want to start thinking about financial aid or some aspect of it as soon as possible.

Uh, it’s important to know that your financial aid is more than just the package. It’s going to be that you are going to receive, but it’s also the strategy in terms of where are you going to apply. Are you going to apply for external scholarships? Are you planning to pay out of pocket? Are you opposed to getting loans?

Those are all things that you have to have knowledge of and be clear about within your family, um, as part of the financial aid process. So know your non negotiables. What are the things that you absolutely Will not accept and what are the things that you can be flexible on? Are loans a non negotiable?

Are you willing to do federal loans but not take out private loans? Where are those lines? Are you willing to go to a school that gives you no financial aid but costs less money? Then a school that gives you some financial aid, but costs more money. What is your bottom line? This is the most we can afford to pay out of pocket.

Those are the kinds of questions that you need to be talking about now, no matter what year you are, uh, before, um, you get to senior year. So start with that. Um, you also want to develop an appropriate college list. I always say the best way to prepare for college and to be able to afford college is to apply to colleges that are affordable for you.

Um, I know that college generally is not affordable. It’s getting more and more and more expensive. Uh, and so that’s why it’s important to understand how financial aid policies impact you to understand what. State schools are in your area and how they differ from each other and to really Give them a shot.

A lot of times we treat state schools as the safeties. Um, or we’re all wanting to go to that one really elite state school. And then all of the other ones are like, give them a chance. Give yourself an opportunity to fall in love with them because state schools are really the only, um, schools where, you know, pretty much exactly what you’re going to pay out of pocket, you know, as an in state resident.

what the worst case scenario is because it’s going to be that discounted in state tuition and cost of attendance. So those are the things that you want to be thinking about now. It’s never too early to think about those things. Now, what is the process? Once we’ve gotten through kind of the general, what is financial aid?

What is the process? What are the processes that you need to be aware of in order to start your financial aid journey? in the fall of your senior year. Um, the FAFSA is really for domestic students, for Americans, um, the cornerstone of the financial aid process. It is the document upon, that determines your eligibility for, uh, federal need based aid, for student loans, federal student loans.

A lot of times the FAFSA is one of the requirements, well all the time, it’s one of the requirements in order to receive state aid and sometimes they will use FAFSA data, state organizations will use FAFSA data in order to calculate how much you get in state need based grants. So it’s a really important application to complete.

It is not an agreement to borrow money. It is not in and of itself a source of money. It is just a document that you are completing and sending out that will give people information about your financial situation. So the point of it is to summarize and predict your ability to pay and from that they’re able to determine whether or not you’re eligible for particular types of aid.

The FAFSA also generates a figure, it generates a number to kind of give you a sense of, um, where you stand and what you should expect Uh, in terms of your contribution to, uh, toward your education or your family’s contribution toward the cost of college, uh, the new term for that you might’ve heard, uh, people refer to an EFC and past year’s estimated family contribution.

Now it is called the student aid index, uh, and it operates in a, in a similar way. So basically the student aid index is going to represent what. Your family based on your finances should be able to pay. Based on the FAFSA’s formula, uh, toward your, um, toward college. Um, it’s not a perfect system. There are still flaws with the formula, even though the formula is, has been, uh, revised a bit.

Uh, so I advise you not to panic about the student aid index. There’s still, you still have moves that you can make, uh, even if your student aid index is a bit higher. Then then what feels comfortable for you in terms of who can and cannot submit a FAFSA, all U. S. Citizens or eligible non citizens can submit the FAFSA.

If you are undocumented, a DACA student, uh, or international student, you are not eligible for federal aid. Therefore, you cannot complete the FAFSA. Or you don’t, you don’t have to. So the big changes that are coming for the FAFSA, uh, this year and moving forward, as I mentioned, the EFC is out, the student aid index is in.

Um, there are some, there’s a few reasons why they’ve sort of changed the terminology. Uh, one is that people were confused by, um, The estimated family expected family contribution by the EFC. They thought that that was sort of a binding requirement when really it was just a figure that says this is about what we estimate they should be able to pay.

But really, we need to in order to figure out what your eligibility is and what your need is, we actually have to take the cost of attendance from a school, then subtract your contribution and then any other third party or external aid that you’re getting. That’s what that’s what your financial need is.

Uh, so the student aid index, hopefully that terminology makes it, um, more evident that it’s not a requirement. It’s kind of an estimate. Um, some other changes is that The student aid index will now will no longer consider the number of family members in college in the past. If you had multiple kids in college, then the EFC was basically split. So if your family had an overall EFC of $40,000, but you had 2 students in college, then they would have EFCs of $20,000 apiece. Now everyone gets an EFC Because they’re not. Or gets a student aid index, uh, independent of whether or not there are other family members in college.

So, if you have an EFC of $40,000 and you have two kids in college, the two kids will get, uh, have student aid indexes of $40,000 apiece. Um, Other changes are that it requires all business owners to report the net worth of the business, no longer just businesses with more than 100 employees that used to be the rule for that.

So, if you’re a small business owner, even if it’s just you, you are going to have to report the net worth of your business. Um, and then finally, the EFC is no longer the sole determinant or the. Student Aid Index now is no longer the sole determinant of the Pell Grant. So later on, I’ll go through the eligibility requirements of the Pell Grant.

And for most families, they can determine whether or not they’re eligible for the Pell Grant. before they even start the FAFSA. The other change is that the FAFSA used to be something that, um, everyone could kind of sign into the same document and then fill out their part of it. Now the FAFSA requires the student to invite contributors, uh, to complete their portion of the FAFSA.

So instead of having one FAFSA and then anyone with an FSA ID, um, that’s connected or a social security number that’s connected to that FAFSA form can log in. You actually will receive a link from the student requesting that you enter your information into the FAFSA. Uh, so, That seems great, but one of the things that can be difficult is with non traditional families.

If you don’t all live in the same household, uh, if, and both parents need to be able to submit their tax information, um, that means that there has to be a lot of communication about the link is coming, please complete it, make sure you’re there. There’s no longer the ability to kind of log in on someone else’s behalf and then sort of enter their information for them.

Um, there’s also going to be this requirement of consent. So you really can’t do it on someone else’s behalf. Um, that said, because there are going to be different contributors, basically, if your fam, if your, uh, if parents are separated, um, if in any situation, the students Biological parents file separate taxes.

So whether they’re married and file separately and live in the same house, um, whether they’re divorced and file file separately, whether they were never married and filed separately, um, any of those situations means that both of those parents need to contribute tax information to the student’s FAFSA.

And so therefore they all need their own FSA ID and the FSA ID is a. basically a secure digital signature where you connect your, uh, your social security number, your date of birth, a few other things, and create sort of a login that you will use to sign the form and to access the form, uh, once you receive that link.

So again, if you do not all live in the same household, uh, and anyone, um, any one of the parent or guardians, uh, did not file jointly. Everyone needs an FSA ID, the student and both parents, and, uh, they all need to be aware that the, uh, contributor link is going to come and that’s how they’re going to access the FAFSA.

I mentioned this before, there’s going to be also a consent to disclose. So basically, Once they get that link, they’re going to have to consent to, um, disclosing federal tax information, um, and if they will not consent to it, then that means that, um, they will, that the student might not be eligible for federal aid, and the student might not be eligible to receive federal aid.

Their um, student aid index. There’s also going to be required onboarding. So if this feels like a lot, don’t worry. When you do go to start the FAFSA, everyone will have to go through a short onboarding process. So the students and contributors, anyone who needs to make changes will have to go through an onboarding process, uh, kind of little videos and explainers and things like that to make sure that you’re comfortable with the situation.

The other big change, uh, to the FAFSA is the addition of an unusual circumstances section. Uh, in the past, if you had unusual circumstances, um, you either submitted and, and couldn’t get everyone’s tax information, you either submitted an incomplete FAFSA, uh, or you really had to try to get that tax information, uh, but usually it just meant that you would end up not getting an EFC and having to appeal with your university.

Uh, the unusual circumstances allows you to flag that. Right out of the gates. So if a student claims an unusual circumstance, then basically what happens is that student will be given provisional, uh, independent status as far as the, as far as the FAFSA is concerned. So that means that they will not have to complete the parental, um, parental financial section.

Um, if everything shakes out and all of the schools are in agreement that yes, this is sufficient, this student should, does have an unusual circumstance, then they will fully That provisional independent status will turn into a permanent independent status and that student will retain their independent status for as long as their situation remains the same and they’re enrolled in that school.

Examples of, um, unusual circumstances that, that are regularly approved are, uh, being the victim of human trafficking. Uh, if you’ve been legally granted refugee or asylum status, uh, and are separated from, the student is separated from the parents or the parents have been displaced, uh, parental abandonment and estrangement.

Um, and the student could not have been adopted after that abandonment and estrangement, uh, an abusive or threatening environment, or student or parental incarceration. Um, please be prepared that if you are going to claim unusual circumstances, that you have documentation to back it up. There will be a request for documentation.

likely coming from the individual financial aid department. So be prepared for that. Uh, there’s also a change in the definition of the custodial parent. In the past, the custodial parent was the parent with whom the student lived the majority of the time and the parent who, uh, covered the student’s expenses.

Now, the custodial parent, it doesn’t matter, uh, residentially. Where the student is, the custodial parent is the person who provides the most financial support to the student, uh, and that’s, that’s really it. So, um, and be aware that sending child support payments could be considered, uh, part of financial support.

So, uh, be clear about that. And as always, just stay safe. Have the documentation, uh, be able to really draw out how that works, uh, especially if it’s, if it’s close in terms of, uh, who would, who would get that custodial parent status. Now, I said that I would cover the Pell Grant, uh, for those of you that don’t know, the Pell Grant is kind of the primary need based federal grant for undergraduate students.

So most students who, well, all students who, uh, show financial need are automatically eligible or a certain level of financial need. are automatically eligible for the Pell Grant. Uh, and it’s just a matter, their income really determines how much that grant will be. One of the new, uh, features of the Pell Grant is that students who, whose families qualify for the maximum Pell Grant, So the largest Pell, if you’re awarded the largest Pell grant that you can possibly get, then that also means that you’re going to get an automatic student aid index of zero.

They won’t even really look beyond whatever income information they needed to determine whether or not you were eligible for the Pell grant. Um, requirements for the maximum Pell grant are that the student’s parents, uh, were not required to file a federal income tax return. Thank you. Usually this means that the family’s gross income was less than $19,400, or the student has, is from a single parent home and that parent has an adjusted gross income greater than zero, but less than 225 percent of poverty guideline, uh, for your family size and your state of residence.

So there are, um. I believe the IRS actually has a list of those poverty guidelines. Uh, and then you can for by state and you can figure it out that way. They’re all tables that you can read. Uh, or the other option is that the student comes from a two parent household and that household has an adjusted gross income.

Greater than zero, but less than 175 percent the poverty guideline. So, um, for the state and family size, so that’s how you can sort of guess what it is. The adjusted gross income is usually box 11 on your 1040 on your. Tax return, and if that is less than 225, and it’s a single parent, 225 percent of the poverty guideline, and you’re a single parent, great.

That’s, that’s what you’re using to compare it, and same thing if it’s 175, and you’re a two parent household. Requirements for the minimum Pell Grant eligibility. So you now you know what you need in order to get the biggest one. For the minimum, the student’s parent or parents must have an adjusted gross income greater than zero, but less than 275 to 400 percent of the poverty guidelines, depending on the family structure.

So again, that’s family size. If the slide deck is in the handouts, feel free to download it. This is a link to state by state poverty guidelines if you’re interested in figuring that out right now.

So in terms of completing the FAFSA, uh, things that you should need, I already covered the FSA ID and what that does. So you all need to create an FSA ID. Uh, and then the materials that you’ll actually need to complete the FAFSA itself is you’ll need your social security number or alien registration number.

You’ll need your 2022 tax returns. So if you have a senior currently, or if you’re a senior, your FAFSA is going to be based on your 2022 tax returns. If you’re not a senior, it’s just always the tax returns from the most recently completed tax year. So for us, that would be 2022 right now. You want to have bank statements and investment tax records, and also your FSA ID.

One of the other changes that I didn’t list here for the FAFSA is that, uh, they will no longer be asking actually for information about untaxed income. So they used to ask that you report that. Now you no longer have to report that. A good rule of thumb to know what you’re going to have to share in the FAFSA is that If it was reflected in your income taxes, if you reported it on your income taxes, that is going to be included and expected to be shared on the FAFSA.

Now, FAFSA aside, the CSS profile is the other financial aid document that you may have to complete. Unlike the FAFSA where all Domestic colleges require you to complete it, regardless as to whether or not you’re seeking financial aid. There’s usually a requirement that you complete it. The CSS profile is not required by all schools.

It’s required. There’s usually between 300 and 400 colleges or universities that use the CSS profile. You can go to the College Board website or just Google CSS profile member schools and you can get a list of all of those schools that require the CSS profile. The differences between the FAFSA and the CSS profile Are one where the FAFSA is intended to, um, identify need and eligibility for federal eligibility for federal need based funds.

Uh, the CSS profile is intended to determine financial need and eligibility for. institutional merit or and or need based funds. So where the FAFSA is about the government funding you, the CSS profile is about the individual institutions to which you are applying funding you, um, know that DACA and undocumented and international students are eligible to apply.

Uh, submit the CSS profile at most schools on that same list that has all the member schools. You’ll see a few other categories. One of them says international, uh, FAFSA for international meaning, or I’m sorry, CSS profile for international. Meaning that international students, if it says yes, it means that yes, we accept the CSS profile from international students.

If it says no, it means no, we don’t accept the CSS profile for international students. Uh, you’ll also see another category, um, about a, um, about a non custodial parent waiver. That’s another thing for you to just kind of keep track of. If you have, again, a split family and one of the parents is not able or available to complete their portion of the financial information, you would then complete a non custodial guardian waiver form so that you could potentially get that requirement waived by schools.

Um, but there are also schools that don’t require, uh, the non custodial parent to show information. So, these are the sorts of things that I’m talking about when you’re trying to figure out whether or not a school is right or trying to figure out your financial aid status. It’s not, or your financial aid strategy, it’s not all about These are the packages that these schools give out.

But it’s also about what information are they going to expect from me? What am I going to have to report on? Um, how are they looking at kind of my financial ecosystem and determining my ability to pay based on what they’re asking me to report? Um, those are all important. If you already know that you’re going to have a hard time to do.

getting information from the non custodial parent because they’ve said I’m not paying for anything or I’m not participating in the college part of it, then it’s a, it’s, it’s a, maybe a smart idea to apply to at least a couple of schools that don’t require non custodial of parents financial information.

Or at the very least, allow the waiver. So those are some things that you again want to work into your strategy so that you’re just hedging your bets and giving yourself the best shot at getting strong packages. The CSS profile in terms of content is pretty similar to the FAFSA. They’re going to ask you for a lot of the same information that the FAFSA does.

Uh, you won’t with the new FAFSA necessarily see all the information that the FAFSA is collecting because they’ve also changed from a sort of data upload model to a data transfer model. So, or a data transfer model to kind of a data sharing model, meaning that Uh, your financial information, your tax information is not going to get shared and uploaded to the Department of Education.

Now, basically, the IRS is going to keep all that information for themselves, but allow the Department of Education to temporarily have access to it so that they can make their determinations. Uh, so, you do want to have your actual tax returns available to you when you do the CSS profile. For most families, you won’t even Need to have them, uh, for the FAFSA for the new FAFSA.

Um, but the CSS profile, you’re going to want your most recent. So 2022 tax returns, you’ll want your W2s, uh, before any of that, you want to make sure you have a college board account. But if you’re, if you were your student, Child has taken the PSATs or the SATs. They already have one. You don’t need an FSA ID or anything like that for the CSS profile, just that college board account.

Uh, you’ll want to have records of your current income And also the CSS profile will ask you about untaxed income benefits and assets. Uh, you’ll also want to have bank statements available, uh, just so that you can double check some things. Uh, Where the CSS profile differs is that they not only are going to ask you about your income and your assets for the most recently completed tax year, they’re going to ask you to estimate, estimate those things for your current tax year.

And I believe they actually sometimes ask for an estimate for the tax year that you’re going to have to pay, or they at least ask if you expect anything to change drastically between the current tax year and the upcoming tax year. Um, but those are the things that, that you want to have. The other place that it differs is that it’s going to ask a lot more demographic and personal information.

then what the FAFSA is going to ask. The FAFSA really is just trying to determine whether or not you qualify as an independent or a dependent, um, as far as financial aid terms are concerned. So that’s really the whole purpose of asking a lot of the demographic questions that they ask. The CSS profile, however, is again, institutional funding, which is largely, um, Which is largely directed by scholarship, uh, endowments, which are largely directed and influenced by the donors who created those scholarship endowments, and those donors usually have preferences for who is awarded out of those funds.

So, uh, and those preferences can be. So specific, shockingly specific, um, all the way down to, had to go to this high school, has to be majoring in this, has to have a parent from this country. I mean, all of those things on one restriction, so they’re going to ask you a lot of demographic kind of personal biographical questions to ensure that they’re covering all of their bases for, all of the scholarship restrictions so they can figure out what funds they can match you with.

So it does feel a bit more invasive than the FAFSA does, but know that all those additional details that you’re providing are actually to help them match you to money that they have. So it’s worth it to complete those portions. Uh, the CSS profile is already open. As I said, um, financial aid priority deadlines vary.

So if you are thinking about applying early action or early decision, you want to make sure that. You want to know if there’s a different financial aid deadline for early action, early decision, than for regular decision. Uh, if you’re applying regular decision, you want to know what the priority financial aid deadline is for both the CSS and the FAFSA.

Uh, because the priority deadline, what they’re actually saying is that after the priority deadline, We can’t guarantee that you’ll be considered for all scholarships. So usually what happens is that all the applications that trickle in up until the priority deadline, they just sort of let them queue up and then they go through all the applications that they got by the priority deadline and award from their full pot of money.

out of that. And then whatever is left over people who submit after the priority deadline, that’s how they get their stuff. So know what the priority deadline is. Uh, the FAFSA now has been delayed. It’s going to open sometime in December. We don’t know when. I’m guessing it’ll definitely be after December 1st because the Department of Education actually has a FAFSA webinar, um, training webinar scheduled for that date and, uh, a seminar, so I’m guessing that it won’t be out by then, uh, the fact that they won’t give us a date or an estimate.

tells me to that you should expect that it will be late in December. This won’t affect anyone really applying regular decision. This delay is really going to primarily affect anyone applying early action or early decision to a school, particularly if you’re applying early decision, because that means you’re making a binding agreement with an institution without a binding scholarship or financial aid offer.

What most schools are going to do and what they’re doing is having students submit whatever financial information they can. So if it’s a CSS profile school, you’ll go ahead and submit the CSS profile. Some, some colleges have added financial aid information to their application or at financial kind of information, asking adjusted gross income, that type of thing.

Uh, some schools might have you. complete their net price calculator and screenshot it. There’s a number of different ways that schools are asking for that information. So make sure you’re clear on what you need to provide them. Uh, you’ll fill that out. You’ll submit your early action or early decision applications.

If you’re admitted, you will be informed of your admission. And then usually most schools that I’ve seen have said that you’ll be given a provisional. financial aid estimate. So basically they’re going to look at what they have and they’re going to estimate this is, you know, you’re, you’re eligible for this amount of financial aid or of scholarship funds.

Uh, then you’ll need to complete the FAFSA when it’s out. Once they receive the FAFSA, if everything lines up, they will confirm your financial aid offer. So that’s all to say that 99.9 percent of the time, it’s gonna line up, you won’t have a problem, but if you’re going to make a binding agreement to a school, know that they’re still reserving a little bit of wiggle room to say, well, you know, your FAFSA didn’t line up to what we collected from you, which could be their own shortcomings in terms of what they’ve asked, the information they’ve asked to collect.

Um, but the FAFSA didn’t line up. So we’re going to have to adjust your award. You just don’t want those surprises. So be for sure, for sure, for sure. Prepared to pay the full freight for early decision, uh, especially this year, if you’re going to go that route, uh, early action, there’s no binding agreement, so there’s really no huge risk in applying early action.

The only thing that I want to caution regular decision people about is that even though it’s not going to mess with your timeline too much, because most priority deadlines are. after January, they’re in February or March. Um, the FAFSA website is probably going to crash a lot because everyone’s going to try, going to be trying to get in there at the same time.

So, uh, be prepared for that. Um, brace yourselves for that and make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to, for that to happen while you’re trying to complete, uh, your application. Very quickly, I’ll go through some financial aid policies, um, and and admissions policies that you want to be aware of.

You may have heard the terms need blind and need aware, need blind, meaning that these are both admissions policies. People think that they’re financial aid policies. They’re not. They’re admissions policies. So basically what need blind is saying is that we will not consider your financial information when making an admission decision.

We will not look at your finances and allow that to impact our decision. Need aware is not saying we absolutely will allow your finances To impact our decision. But it’s saying that we reserve the right to make decisions based on your financial situation. Um, so make sure that you know how that works.

Um, a big misconception is that need aware schools are, you know, or actually sometimes people think need blind is better for low income students or that need aware schools are better for low income students. We actually never are. No, how that policy is going to work because we don’t know. What’s going on with the school financially and however their scholarship budget is working That makes them need to do that They might have a ton of need based scholarships that they need to give out And so it benefits you to be a low income student at a need aware school because they have all these low income They have all these need based scholarships that they need to give out and get rid of they might not have that, and if you can’t afford to pay something out of pocket, it might not benefit them because they’re, uh, reliant on, uh, tuition revenue.

So you never really know, uh, and don’t expect for schools to be transparent about that, but just know what they mean and what their impacts can be. Uh, the other, um, term that you’ll want to be aware of is schools that say they meet full financial needs. So basically what they’re saying is that. We will determine based on the financial information that you’ve given us how much we think you should be able to pay out of pocket if there is a gap between that amount and the total cost of attendance, we will fill that gap with financial aid.

Some schools make that commitment and it’s a debt free commitment, meaning that we will fill that gap with scholarships, grants, and work study. We will not assume that you are going to also borrow student loans. Some schools, uh, do include student loans as part of that financial aid package to meet full need.

Um, one misconception that you want to be aware of is that, um, if a financial aid package calculates institutional need greater than zero, families will be expected, uh, to pay a portion of their fees out of pocket. So some of that meeting full need. is going to be your family’s contribution toward, uh, toward the tuition.

So just be aware of that. Uh, financial aid for international students. This is really quick. Basically, if you’re an international student, you should prepare to have to pay the full cost of attendance out of pocket. Just prepare for that. Prepare to start looking for scholarships and funding opportunities to help bridge that gap so that you’re not left high and dry.

If the school does not give you, uh, a hefty financial aid package, uh, the, the kinds of awards that you will be eligible for our institutional, uh, merit based for sure need based in most situations, although a lot of times they won’t really consider international students need in the same way that they will a domestic student.

Um, external or organizational funds. It depends on whether or not they have those funds for international students. So that’s something you’ll want to look into, but know that any federal grants, loans, or state funding, you will not have access to it. Even after you’ve been here a year as an international student, you won’t, you won’t be able to access those funds.

Uh, you also want to be sure, be aware that you’re going to need an F1 visa. And part of that is the I20 process, which means that you will have to prove that you have liquid funds to be able to, uh, cover a full year’s cost of attendance out of pocket minus any scholarship or funding that a school may have offered you.

So you will have to show that that is sitting in a bank account. So be prepared for that. Uh, also make sure you understand any other additional requirements and add a little bit to what they estimate you’ll need for incidentals and cost of living. You’ll want to add to that because it’s going to be slightly more expensive for an international student.

Please download the slide deck because these are some good resources for international funding and I’m going to end it with my pro tips. Estimating costs the best way that you can estimate and have a sense of how much is the school going to cost is going is to use the EFC or net price calculators. Um.

net cost calculators on each school’s website. Uh, EFC calculators are old. They, I don’t know that they’ve created, they haven’t really created the SAI, uh, calculators yet. So you can forget that one, but the net cost calculators will be a good indicator of what you can expect to pay. Um, make sure that you know whether schools are how full need debt free works.

And like I said before, state schools are the best. are the most transparent, uh, sort of financial aid packages out there, you know, right out of the gates what it is that you’re going to pay out of pocket. Um, this is also some good information on deciphering financial aid websites so that you can figure out What sorts of phrases to pick out.

Um, and some things that you’ll want to identify with the financial aid or admissions office as you’re sort of trying as you’re kind of scouting these schools and their financial aid packages. One, they should be able to tell you the average financial aid package. They should be able to tell you the average out of pocket, uh, cost per student.

They should be able to tell you the average borrow, loans borrowed per student and the pervasiveness of private loans among the undergraduate population. High private loans is not a good sign, uh, that you’re going to get a sufficient financial aid package. Additional resources to help you work through that, uh, your college counselor might be a good resource.

The admissions offices at the schools that you’re applying to should be the first contact. Financial aid offices at smaller schools can be helpful, but you have to be cognizant of the fact that financial aid offices are also servicing students. The current student body. So they’re going to be overwhelmed, especially this fall and winter.

So I would say direct initial financial aid questions to the admissions office. And then obviously my own team here at CollegeAdvisor. If you’re a CollegeAdvisor family, you can schedule. one on one consultations with the financial aid milestone team.

Lonnie: Okay. Thank you, Ashly. Grab, grab a sip of water if you can.

Um, you shared a great amount of information for our audience, giving us a deep dive into the new financial aid process. Um, with that, we do have a few more minutes left in our webinar to take. Um, your questions. So if you have any questions for Ashly, please feel free to, um, go ahead and write them out in the Q and a tab.

But with that, I’m going to go ahead and start with our, our first question, which is, um, do international scholarship packages come with periodic stipends to the students?

Ashly: That depends. Um, most, I would say the majority of international scholarship packages don’t, uh, because the majority of financial aid packages.

Don’t, uh, a good move would be, uh, I believe it. U.S. News and World Report has a couple of lists, uh, in terms of schools that like most affordable schools for international students, that type of thing. Um, The stipends, uh, just on the basis of being international, that would be really, really rare.

Lonnie: All righty.

So someone asked if, um, what if any, I think kind of covered this maybe, but like, if you want to reiterate, what if one parent or guardian is out of the picture, then how do you kind of work through that?

Ashly: If a parent or guardian is out of the picture for the FAFSA, you can complete the unusual circumstances.

That would be an option to, uh, apply, um, As an unusual circumstances application, uh, the thing with that, though, is that you do need to provide documentation. So, um, just having kind of a parent who’s in the picture, but it’s like, I’m not going to pay. I’m not, you know, going to do that, that’s going to be on you, isn’t sufficient.

They’re going to want affidavits from attorneys, from social workers, um, police reports. Basically, you’re going to need to prove that it’s a safety issue as to why you can’t contact that parent. Uh, similarly for the CSS profile, you would complete a, uh, non custodial guardian waiver, and that would basically be requesting that they not.

ask for that custodial parent, the non custodial parents information. It’s not guaranteed that that waiver will be accepted.

Lonnie: Great, great insight. Um, is there an income level above which we can choose not to file the CSS profile?

Ashly: I would read closely, um, if the application, uh, and the financial aid, um, website, if it says that it’s required, it’s required regardless of your, of your income.

Um, I would also encourage you, even if you make, a good money to complete it because the CSS profile is not just about need, it’s about merit. If you don’t complete it and submit it, then basically you’re saying we do not want to be considered for any aid, we agree to pay the full out of pocket rate. Um, and even if you easily afford it, having a merit scholarship is a great thing for your student to put on their resume.

So I wouldn’t want to skip over that, that chance.

Lonnie: Okay. Um, how does divorce impact the FAFSA process? One parent earns income and the other does not. How would it be viewed?

Ashly: So in a situation of divorce, if one parent earns income, that parent earning the income would be the custodial parent. Uh, and so they would be the parent completing.

The FAFSA along with the student, uh, the non custodial parent would also, uh, complete the FAFSA, uh, and indicate that they are unemployed, um, and share their tax information, which would largely, in most cases, show alimony and child support, um, But the custodial parent, the person who’s earning money, um, their information would be weighted a little bit heavier.

So, um, yeah, that’s, that’s how that works.

Lonnie: Okay. Um, do you have any recommendations for how students going through the athletic recruitment can maximize their chances for scholarships or grants?

Ashly: So a lot of that depends on what division, um, their, their schools they’re looking at. So if they’re looking at division one schools, uh, that’s going to be An athletic scholarship and something that has very little to do actually with financial aid and a lot more to do with what that team’s budget is and how many scholarship athletes they have.

And that’s going to be a decision made by the coaches and the athletic director. Uh, it’s, it’s division two or NAIA. Um, then again, those are usually more about the athletic budget than anything else. If you’re talking about Division III or Ivy League athletics where there are no athletic scholarships, then it’s the exact same thing.

Uh, basically you want to apply to schools that you can afford. If you’re going to the Ivy League as an athlete, um, they don’t have merit scholarships. So it’s 100 percent need based. Uh, and if you are a high income family, you’re just going to need to be prepared to pay out of pocket, uh, use that net price calculator.

Uh, if it’s not a need, a hundred percent need based program, then yeah, it goes right back to what any traditional student would need to do, uh, to. Get a good scholarship, which means selecting schools that have financial aid policies and programs that benefit you and the way your family and your finances are set up and play to your strengths.

So if you have outstanding grades, places that have strong merit programs are where you’re going to want to lead. Um, if you, if a lot of these schools are in state, if any of them are public. Lean into that. Um, but yeah, being an athlete, uh, really doesn’t impact it one way or the other. Either you’re going to be given a scholarship by the athletic department or you, you function like a normal student.

Lonnie: Okay. Thank you. Um, are USA territory. Territory students with the U.S.A. Passports considered international student.

Ashly: No, you can submit the FAFSA. So if you’re from, you know, Puerto Rico or Commonwealth, you can submit the FAFSA.

Lonnie: Okay.

Ashly: Um, when do we get the financial aid letters from colleges? That depends school to school, your final financial aid letter.

Usually your financial aid comes with your admission letter. You’ll get some information. Some schools will give you the whole package where they’ll say you’re getting this much in scholarships, you’re getting this much in state grants, you’re getting this much in loans, this much in work study. They’ll give you a whole itemized list.

Some schools will send you a letter that says congratulations, you’ve been awarded the President’s Scholarship. scholarship for $20,000 a year, and they’ll give you all the terms of that scholarship. Then later in the spring, you’ll get that itemized financial aid letter that shows, you know, potential loans and anything.

extra funding that they have for you. Um, so it really depends. If you’re early action, early decision, you’re more likely to get that congratulations, you’ve been approved for this kind of lump sum of money conditionally. Um, if you’re, um, regular decision in getting, yeah, if you’re regular decision, then you’ll more, you’re, it’s more likely that you’ll get a more detailed financial aid letter at the time of admission.

Lonnie: Okay. Our next question reads, let me see if we do track down and have an absent parent fill out the FAFSA, does that mean the custodial parent will be on the hook for the financial portion of the absent parent skewing the numbers? So,

Ashly: not necessarily. Um, there’s a couple of things. So, one, not necessarily.

Um, you can always appeal. So, if you’re able to track down that kind of a strange person and they give you the information that you need, Um, and you’re like, but I know we haven’t seen them. Here’s proof documentation that there’s no relationship here. Then you would submit that to the individual universities in the appeals stage.

So after you’ve been offered a financial aid package that doesn’t work for you, that’s when you would get into those details.

Lonnie: Okay. And do most schools have an individual process? deadline or documentation for financial aid that’s outside of the FAFSA?

Ashly: I wouldn’t say most schools do. Um, I think that between the FAFSA and the CSS profile, that’s kind of generally what most schools do.

Know that if it’s a CSS profile school, you’re submitting the FAFSA and CSS profile to that school. Um, every now and then you might have follow up questions about your situation. So for instance, if you have a really, really low income and really, really high assets, they might want to dig into that. Um, but I would say that those really are what you need to concern yourself with.

Um, also you might see in your admitted students portal after you’re admitted to the school information about a, the school’s kind of scholarship portal. So all scholarships aren’t necessarily awarded at the time of admission, There might be an additional scholar, an additional application process for you to complete after you’re admitted if you want to be considered for institutional scholarships.

So be aware of that, too.

Lonnie: Okay. Um, let me share quickly about the work that we do within CollegeAdvisor. So for those who are in the room who may not be working with us, we know how overwhelming that process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourselves. Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one on one advising sessions.

Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular lists, discuss how it aligns with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.

After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. Okay, so I will leave that there. I think we have time for just a couple more questions. One more question, actually. Um, and this question, it will just read, uh, do colleges use either the fast or the CSS profile?

Ashly: They, it, it depends if they are a CSS profile institution where there’s 3 to 400 per year, they’re going to use the CSS profile and the FAFSA. If they are not a CSS profile member school, then they will use. The FAFSA. Um, and really quickly, there was another question about whether it’s there’s ever a time that it’s not worth it to complete the FAFSA.

I would always encourage you to complete the FAFSA, even if you make tons and tons of money, not submitting a FAFSA, usually the one the FAFSA is required because they also need that information. From you in order to fulfill reporting requirements. But two, there’s not any downside to submitting the FAFSA.

If you’re prepared to pay full price, basically by foregoing completing the FAFSA and saying, don’t give us any aid, then you’re Worst case scenario is that the FAFSA says, yep, you make too much money. We’re not going to give you any need based aid. But if your child by any chance anywhere would be eligible for merit based aid, not submitting the FAFSA would also, uh, foreclose the opportunity of them being considered for that merit based aid.

So complete all of the financial aid. Documents that are required and do it every year. Resubmit as required.

Lonnie: Okay. Thank you. So with that, we are now approaching the end of our webinar. Thank you, Ashly, for sharing all this great knowledge and information with our audience. And lastly, I just want to share with you all the upcoming webinars that we have for the remainder of this month.

So we hope to see you in a future webinar. everyone. And with that, um, our webinar is now concluded. Thank you again, Ashly. Have a great night.