Paying for College
Money for college may come from a variety of sources and avenues. From merit-based scholarships to need-based funds, students and families are encouraged to communicate with each other and the college the student wishes to attend to secure money to pay for the cost of attendance.
Cost of attendance is the full amount of the cost to attend for one year at a college or university. COA not only includes tuition, it also includes fees, supplies, books, room & board, meal plan, traveling expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses.
When applying for admission to a college, students should check with the college to see if the admission application also serves as the scholarship application, or if there is a separate scholarship application. Be mindful of admission and scholarship application deadlines.
Paying for College presentation by Senior Counselor - November 2019
FAFSA & Federal Financial Aid presentation by UAB - November 2019
Scholarship databases exist to help students search broadly for scholarships. Students may narrow their search using a variety of factors from academic merit, community service, career interests, and hobbies. Students should not pay to create an account with an online scholarship database -- these searches should be free. Suggested scholarship databases include
Organization and Local Scholarships
Scholarships sponsored by local organizations will be posted in Schoology in the Seniors course. If you have questions about scholarships, please see Mrs. Meeks, senior counselor.
FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, opens October 1 during a student's senior year of high school. Visit https://fafsa.ed.gov.
The federal government uses this application to determine your eligibility for financial aid, which includes grants and scholarships (which do not have to be paid back), work study, and loans.
Why complete the FAFSA? It is used to determine the amount of aid to be awarded, and some scholarships require the FAFSA be completed, regardless of family/household income.
What does a college do with FAFSA? Your prospective college will try to meet your financial need through aid comprised of federal, state, college/university, and private sources.
FAFSA Process 1-2-3!
- Step 1 - Gather forms
- Social Security Number (for student and parent)
- Student's driver license number
- Current investment records (if any)
- Alien registration card (if not a U.S. citizen)
- Parents' federal tax return (from previous year)
- Student's tax return (if filed)
- Untaxed income records and other records of money earned (if any)
- Step 2 - Complete the FAFSA
- Visit https://fafsa.ed.gov
- Once finished, print the FAFSA summary and the "submission confirmation" page.
- Step 3 - Review your Student Aid Report (SAR)
- SAR is proof that your FAFSA was received. You should receive your electronic SAR in 1-3 days after submitting a completed FAFSA.
- What if I find errors on my SAR? Report errors immediately to the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend. You can also make changes through your FAFSA online account.
- If you do not receive your SAR within two weeks, contact 1-800-433-3243.
Additional FAFSA Tips
Keep up with your ID and password in a secure location. You will need it for each year you plan to complete the FAFSA (through college and graduate school).
Remember that the FAFSA is FREE.
Fill out the FAFSA as soon as it opens on October 1 of a student's senior year in high school. Then, complete it each fall if the student plans to be in college the following school year. Early submission maximizes opportunities for receiving aid.
Sign the application. If you are filing as a dependent, then make sure your parents sign, too. You will use your PIN if signing electronically.
Indicate on the FAFSA the colleges to which you would like the SAR sent.
Save your FAFSA online if you are not able to complete it in one session. Click the "save" button at the bottom of each step to save for 45 days.
Don't leave a field blank. If a question does not apply, then enter "0."
Print a copy of your FAFSA for your records.
All federal financial aid is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need. The formula used to determine a student's eligibility does not expect families to contribute 100% of their savings toward the student's educational expenses, but families are expected to contribute a reasonable amount based on their ages, the size of the family, the number of students in college, and the family's assets and income.
Financial aid counselors at colleges and universities are available to help students and families complete the FAFSA. They are expertly knowledgeable on the process for completing the FAFSA and are well-versed in answering detailed questions. Families and students are encouraged to reach out to a representative in the financial aid office at one of the colleges to which you are seeking admission or to the college you plan to attend.
User ID: Your key to Online Identification
The User ID is the code that the U.S. Department of Education uses to identify you online. The User ID allows you to do the following on the FAFSA:
- check the status
- make corrections
- complete an online renewal form the following year
- electronically sign to expedite the process
Do not reveal your PIN or User ID to anyone. The User ID allows anyone to electronically sign federal student aid documents and access your confidential information.