5 Reasons to Join the Rockaway Youth Task Force!
This one goes out to all our high school seniors and college students who anticipate being in college in Fall 2017. Unless your parents are rolling in dough, which in that case check out this website (rytf.org/donate), you can expect to need some sort of financial aid to cover the costs of your college education. While there are a ton of ways you can finance your education, most of those paths begin with filling out the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, aka, FAFSA. By completing your FAFSA, you become eligible to receive federal, state, and school aid for your college education. FAFSA also determines what type of aid you’re eligible for, such as grants or federal student loans. Grants are allocations that you do NOT have to repay (i.e. free money), whereas federal student loans must be repaid to the government. Filling out a FAFSA does not guarantee that you will receive federal aid, but you won’t know unless you complete the application.
Filling out the FAFSA can be daunting, but the government tries to make it helpful. Check out the FAFSA website ASAP to create a FSA ID and begin the process. The FAFSA application for the 2017-2018 school year opened on October 1, 2016 so you should get started as soon as possible. The US Department of Education also has a ton of helpful FAFSA tips and tricks including a helpful blog and a list of documents that you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA application (copied below for your convenience). The whole process should take less than an hour, but it could save you and your family thousands of dollars. Even if you don’t receive as much aid as you’d like, filling out the FAFSA allows you to start thinking ahead about your education and how you can finance it.
After you fill out your FAFSA and receive information on the type of financial aid you can receive, you might want to consider applying for scholarships to bridge the gap between your financial aid package and the amount of money you’d have to come out of pocket for. The internet is filled with opportunities and there are even scholarships for wearing a duct tape outfit to prom… We’ve included a few websites to get you started and you should talk to your school’s counselors about other scholarship opportunities too!
Between your federal aid and scholarships, you would hope to be able to cover your college costs, but that’s not a reality for many students. Another way to finance your education is through private loans. Since federal loans often have lower interest rates, they are often the preferred loan, but you can go to any bank and discuss your options. Consumer Affairs wrote about the best student loans of 2016 here. Also, check out the Department of Education’s Pros and Cons list about federal and private loans here.
All in all, a college education is expensive, but not out of reach. A college education can open a lot of doors and opportunities for young, advocacy minded folks like yourself and you should explore all your options to find a path that works best for you.
Necessary FAFSA Documents
- Your Social Security number
- Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
- Your driver’s license number if you have one
- Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Federal tax information* or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
- IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
- Foreign tax return and/or
- Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student