College is Scary, But Financial Aid Doesn’t Have To Be

FAFSA is open from October 1- March 2

By: Hannah Jones

   For Seniors at Benicia High School college is just around the corner. The due date for applications and essays are close and it is time to start thinking about how to pay for everything. Thanks to our Benicia High Counseling staff we had a representative from Cal State Maritime come last Thursday night in the PAB giving an informational presentation on financial aid.

   Financial aid can be acquired in a variety of ways. You can recieve aid from the federal government, private sources, employees, colleges and universities.

   The federal government provides aid based on need and is the largest source of financial aid. To apply for aid you have to fill out FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and by filling it out you will open yourself up to a variety of opportunities including scholarships, grants and federal student loans.

   Private sources are people in your community that may be giving out scholarships for graduating seniors. Groups like the Lions Club, Soroptimist Club and others often give out scholarships. You must look for these scholarships because they will not come find you. The Counseling office has a drawer of these types of scholarships and you can also find them on Naviance. The representative invited the audience to also check out her financial aid cite to use as a source to find more scholarships.

   Employers often give out financial aid to both to employees and children of employees. You may be able to get educational benefits if you look into it because most of the time it is not advertised.

   Individual colleges and universities also give financial aid packages. These packages can be based on either need or merit depending on which college you end up going to. FAFSA is very important for this type of aid because it is often based on your family’s income. You must watch out for deadlines and application requirements that differ from the FAFSA itself.

   As you can see above FAFSA is a very important for the financial aid that you would need in college. The FAFSA can be filled out by paper, by phone, on an app and online. The app is new this year and is called myStudentAid. We were assured that this app is as secure as it possibly could be when a parent asked about the app’s security due to the application asking for a lot of important information. The benefits of completing the application online is that you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which fills in a majority of your financial information that would otherwise have been confirmed using paper documents that you personally have to send into FAFSA.

   The easiest and fastest way to complete the FAFSA is by having all of the documents you need readily available. General information that you will need if you are a dependent is:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your citizen status
  • Marital Status of both yourself and your parents
  • Highest education level completed by your legal guardians
  • You and your parent will need to have an FSA ID so that you can both digitally sign the form
  • Your parents’ tax, income, and other financial information
  • College information (the schools you are planning to apply to)
  • Housing Plans for each of your colleges
    • For Example: If someone was to go to DVC they would most likely live at home. But if you were going to Oregon State you would most likely live on campus. The aid for these two situations would be different because if you are living on campus you might get aid for living on campus.

   Frequent mistakes that occur include accidentally switching up the SSN of you and your parent, untaxed income not being provided, misstated information about income earned by parents and step parents and other little errors. The benefit of filling out the FAFSA early is that it can be reviewed and you can fix your mistakes.

   Other ways to find financial aid was provided by our new college and career counselor, Mrs. Marwick. She suggested that we go onto to find our own scholarships and other money for college.

   College is coming quicker than you think so make your life easier by applying for scholarships and financial aid now.

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