Is your child interested in going to college? If so, you might be asking yourself, “What steps should my child take to apply for financial aid and scholarships? It’s a super important thing to help them do. I am not a financial professional and cannot provide financial advice, but I can share what I have learned from working with college students and their parents for over thirty years! The first step? Educate yourself!
Trying to understand the world of financial aid can be a real challenge, but with guidance and support, your child can successfully navigate the application process. Yes, I understand that we want our kids to become more independent as they approach the college years yet they cannot easily deal with the complex world of financial aid without help. Some parents provide this type of support, others hire professionals to help. Regardless, here are six important steps your child can take to apply for financial aid and scholarships:
- Start early: The earlier your child starts learning about the financial aid and scholarship application process, the better. Recommend that they familiarize themselves with the process by looking at the information provided on a variety of college websites. Help them understand it is important to allow plenty of time to gather all the necessary information and documents, complete the application forms, and to submit everything before the deadline.
- Create a financial aid and scholarship plan: Sit down with your child and create a plan for applying for financial aid and scholarships. This can include a list of potential scholarships and grants, as well as a timeline for completing the application process.
- Complete the FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the financial aid process. Your child will need to complete this form in order to be considered for federal financial aid, such as grants, work-study programs, and student loans. I have rarely seen a child successfully complete the FAFSA alone. Be ready to help!
- Gather necessary documents: Your child will need to provide certain documents in order to apply for financial aid and scholarships. These may include tax returns, bank statements, transcripts, and other financial information. As stated in #1, it’s important to gather these documents early on to ensure that your child has everything they need to complete their applications.
- Apply for scholarships: There are many scholarships available, so it’s important for your child to research and find ones that are a good fit. They can search for scholarships on websites like FastWeb or Cappex, or they can check with their current school or college for scholarship opportunities.
- Follow up: After your child has submitted their financial aid and scholarship applications, it’s important to follow up to make sure everything has been received and processed. Guide them in contacting the financial aid office at their school or the scholarship organization to ensure that their application is complete and correct.
With your support and guidance, your child can complete an important step in their transition to college by applying for financial aid and scholarships!