By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Understanding the complex world of Federal Student Aid (FSA) can be intimidating, especially for students utilizing FSA funds for the first time. There are so many questions that pop up as you go through the process:
- What kind of funding can I get?
- What information will I need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
- How do I ensure I am borrowing enough funding?
- Where do I turn if I have questions?
The answer to the last question is an easy one and will provide you with the resources to answer most (if not all) of your other financial aid questions. There are numerous resources to consult if you have FSA questions. Here are some of your best financial aid resources (Note: this list is not comprehensive):
- The Financial Aid Office at your school. Advisors at your school are going to be the best resource for you. As financial aid professionals, they can provide and explain the information you need. They can also give you guidance in navigating the policies and procedures you need to follow. Advisors will answer questions about available funding, filling out the FAFSA and determining your eligibility, and they also will provide advice on borrowing and budgeting strategies.
- The Office of Federal Student Aid/Department of Education (ED). ED has an entire office dedicated to FSA. The Student Aid website offers a vast amount of information and answers frequently asked questions. In addition, the Office of FSA provides informational videos and events via its YouTube channel and Twitter feed.
- Your trusted mentors. Parents, former teachers and spiritual leaders all might have unique insight into your college decisions. The best advice will come from someone who has already lived through the college experience. If you have a trusted person with valuable college experience, give that person the opportunity to share those experiences with you.
Everyone’s financial situation is unique. As a result, each person’s eligibility and experience with financial aid will vary.
With so many people and financial aid resources available to help, it is important to remember that every decision you make should be the one that benefits you the most. Do not be afraid to ask questions and develop the ability to distinguish between advice and information.
Since college expenses can be high, make choices that best fit your financial situation and priorities. It is your education, not anyone else’s.
Make sure you fully trust any advice you are given before acting on it. Being well-informed will help minimize confusion and help you make the best decisions for you.