1. Not completing FAFSA by your college’s deadline
Most colleges have limited funds for financial aid so when you apply late, you run the risk of not getting first dibs on scholarships, FSEOG grants or work study. Find out your college’s deadline and make sure you’re applying by the due date. This year, you’re in luck - you can start applying for FAFSA starting in October 1st.
2. Taking only the minimum number of credits to be full time
Are you only taking 12 credits per semester? If you need 120 credits to graduate, you’re adding at least one extra year to your graduation date. So, you’re paying an extra year of tuition, taking one more year of loans and you’ll start earning money one year later! Add more credits per semester to graduate sooner. And, don’t forget to brush up on your study skills to manage the heavier course load.
3. Not knowing your school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements
To qualify for federal financial aid each year, you must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) eligibility requirements that include minimum GPA and pace benchmarks. When you fail or withdraw from a class, it reduces your pace and it may not meet the minimum requirement. Check your school’s SAP policy online or in the financial aid office to ensure that your GPA and pace meet the criteria each semester.
4. Not making friends with your financial aid counselor
Your financial aid office can be a great resource for scholarships that you may not know about, but qualify for. Ask about scholarships that fit your extracurricular or academic profile. Colleges also often have emergency scholarships for students to fill a small gap or to pay for books. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Margo Wright, CEO and Founder of Yenko Inc.
Margo is the founder of Yenko, a software company that sells software to help students avoid losing financial aid. Yenko’s personalized, early alert analytics identify and support students at risk. The company was born out of her frustration that over Forty-five percent (45%) of U.S. adults do not possess a post-secondary degree. She previously served as Senior Manager for College Readiness and College Success at the Harlem Children’s Zone and as Executive Director of Bodanna, a nonprofit social enterprise.