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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 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 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 andCollege Success at the Harlem Children’s Zone and as Executive Director of Bodanna, a nonprofit social enterprise.
Pay Your Tuition supports The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act proposed in Congress on February 4, 2021 by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA). This legislation would allow student athletes to earn income with their name, image, and likeness (NIL). College sports is a 15-billion-dollar industry, and NCAA revenues exceeded one billion dollars in 2019. Despite this, NCAA athletes are prohibited from receiving compensation in any form other than a scholarship. This leaves many student athletes, predominantly students of color, saddled in student debt and consequently stuck in a cycle of poverty, while the organizations they serve make huge profits off their labor and commitment.
The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act addresses this problem by allowing student athletes to earn income from jersey sales, shoe deals, and other commercial ventures that use the players’ NIL. Under this new legislation, the players would own their individual brands instead of the college or organization they play for. This newly generated wealth could also be redistributed to benefit all of college sports instead of being controlled at the top. There are many ways this newfound money could be used to incentivize higher graduation rates and more equity between HBCUs, small colleges, and the traditional college sports powerhouses.
Currently, coaches and executives receive six and seven figure salaries while the student athletes generating this revenue without scholarships are forced to amass debt in order to eat, live, and pay rising tuition costs. PYT supports The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act, as we are committed to finding effective ways to make higher education more affordable for all students. This program would help student athletes graduate without debt and give back to the communities that helped them achieve their goals.
If Congress passes The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act and the President signs it into law, there would have to be a new financial system to replace the old one. Protecting athletes, avoiding predatory investors, and promoting equity in college athletics should be the main goals of this new system. Consumer protections need to be established for the student athletes so that large corporations and other financial institutions will not take advantage of them. This will also require putting protective measures on these profits to prevent fraud or reckless spending. The profit generated by this new rule should be infused into a profit sharing model, where a percentage goes to the student directly and the rest into a general fund that can be allocated as needed. This would only apply above a certain income level and could work similarly to how the current profit sharing model works in college sports. This money should also be tied to incentives such as graduation of student athletes and performance at school to ensure students still get the education they need. Helping struggling student athletes and preventing exploitation of their labor is the ultimate goal.
On Oct. 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — better known as the FAFSA — opens for students planning to attend college during the 2021-22 school year. Completing your FAFSA each year puts you in the running for grants, loans, and work-study opportunities that can help offset out-of-pocket college costs.
If you’ll be heading to school for the first time or returning for another year of classes during the 2021-22 school year, here’s what you need to know about completing the FAFSA.
Before applying, brush up on the FAFSA requirements to make sure you qualify. Getting convicted of a drug offense or having defaulted on federal student loans might make you ineligible for aid.
You should also gather all of the information and documents you need for the application. Here’s what to have on hand:
If you’re a dependent, you’ll need to provide the above information for your parents as well. Try to get all of the information together beforehand so you can finish the application in one sitting.
“A little bit of homework can go a long way. Of those who file [the FAFSA], nearly half wait until January or later, and that procrastination can be costly,” says Ashley Boucher, a spokesperson for Sallie Mae.
That’s because some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The closer to the FAFSA opening date (Oct. 1) you file, the better chance you may have to lock in award money.
There are a few basic steps in filling out the FAFSA.
To start the application, you need to set up an FSA ID for yourself and one of your parents if you’re a dependent. The FSA ID is used to log in to your application and electronically sign the application when you’re ready to submit it.
If you’re a student returning to the application, you can put in the FSA ID from last year and hit “FAFSA renewal.” This will pull some of the information from last year’s application.
The personal information section will ask for your Social Security number, birth date, and driver’s license. There’s also a school section, where you can add up to 10 schools where you want the FAFSA information to be sent.
If you’re unsure which schools you want to apply for, don’t worry; you can make changes to this list later. Also, consider putting at least one state school on the list.
“If you aren’t happy with your aid packages, state schools and community colleges are much cheaper with in-state tuition, so it’s always good to have that option,” says Charlie Javice, founder of Frank, a startup that helps students complete the FAFSA application process.
Some states require that a state school is at the top of the list to be considered for state aid, so be sure to check with your state’s guidelines.
Next on the application is inputting the financial information that will be used to determine your aid eligibility. For the 2021-22 year, you will input financial information for the 2019 tax year. To make your life a bit easier, you may be able to add financial information from your tax return to the FAFSA application using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
You can apply by paper using the printable PDF version, through the myStudentAid mobile app, or on the Federal Student Aid website. After submitting the application, lookout for a confirmation screen to verify completion.
The federal deadline for the 2021-22 FAFSA submission is 11:59 p.m. Central Time on June 30, 2022. But states may also have their own FAFSA deadline, so check that date before putting “fill out my FAFSA” at the bottom of your to-do list.
The sooner you apply, the better. When it comes to the FAFSA, the early bird catches the “free money,” because some aid funds can run out as people apply for aid.
Getting in your application as soon as possible is also a good idea even if you’re undecided. “The earlier you complete the FAFSA, the earlier you’ll get your financial aid award letters so you’ll have more time to compare school offers and make an informed decision,” says Kat Tretina, a certified student loan counselor based in Florida.
If you have questions about the FAFSA form — such as how to determine your dependency status and what assets to include in your net worth — you might want to wait and ask for help, since submitting the wrong information could impact your eligibility.
There are “Help” buttons throughout the FAFSA application, or you can contact StudentAid.gov or your school’s financial aid office to ask questions. However, you shouldn’t put the application on the back burner for too long. If you delay completing the FAFSA, you could be left with student loans as your only financial aid option, says Tretina.
It’s worth noting that completing the FAFSA isn’t required to go to school. In fact, research published by Sallie Mae shows that nearly one-third of families skipped the FAFSA altogether last year. “Many believe they won’t qualify for aid, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that nearly all who apply to qualify for some,” says Boucher.
If you’re not planning on doing the FAFSA, you may want to give it a second thought. The application is free, and although answering the questions can be monotonous, investing the time may be worth a shot at getting aid to offset your out-of-pocket costs.
It takes three to five days to process your online application and seven to 10 days to process a paper application. After the application is processed, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which outlines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This information is sent to the schools on your list, and it determines your financial aid package.
If you don’t get the amount of aid you were hoping for, you can file an appeal and negotiate your aid package, according to Javice. If there’s been a change to your finances since you filed taxes for 2019 — perhaps you or your parents lost a job because of the pandemic — you can request that the school revisit the offer to account for your current financial situation.
If you got a better aid award at your “second choice” school, you could even ask your top choice to match it. Besides negotiating your aid, you can apply for other scholarships and grants.
Javice also recommends considering community college to obtain credits that you can transfer to a four-year school if you don’t get enough award money. These credits could cost a fraction of the price and put you on the path to obtaining the same degree.
There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to college. Where should you go? And, most importantly, how are you going to pay for it all? Submitting your FAFSA application right away can get you financial aid offers sooner than later so you can compare options and figure out how to bridge the financial gap if the award money isn’t enough to cover the cost.
For more info, click here.
Federal student loan servicers:
1. Go to the national student loan system. (https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/)
2. Select financial aid review.
3. Accept the terms and conditions.
4. If you have a FSA ID login with it, if you don't create one. (https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm)
5. Next, you should see all of your loan data. This includes the type of student loan you may have and the outstanding balances and interest owed.
6. The contact information of each lender is located at the bottom page.
7. If your federal loan is in default please you should contact the Department of Education at https://studentaid.gov/ and click repayment options
Private student loans are different.
Please refer to your credit report to get the most recent loan company servicing your private student loan. Resources like annualcreditreport.com will provide your credit report for free.
Most common student loan servicing companies and contact telephone numbers:
For student loan borrowers, refinancing is one of the few ways to save on their debt. Not only can borrowers receive a lower interest rate if approved, they may also be able to adjust their repayment terms to better fit their financial situations. In order for refinancing to become a legitimate option, however, many borrowers must enlist the assistance of a cosigner. This is especially true for borrowers with poor credit, high debt-to-income ratios, or minimal or unsteady income.
If you’ve recently been asked to cosign for someone looking to refinance their student loans, you may be eager to help a friend or family member in need, but as with most financial decisions, it’s also important to determine how becoming a cosigner can impact you and/or your family. In our research, we have found that many parents did not fully understand the impact of cosigning before doing so. You definitely don’t want to blindly put yourself into a huge financial commitment.
Not sure if cosigning is right for you? Here are a few tips on how to decide if you should cosign on a student loan refinance.
Many students seeking higher education often have trouble obtaining the financing they need to fund their education because they have not had enough time to establish good credit on their own. When a student cannot obtain financing on their own, a cosigner may be able to help.
A student loan cosigner is a creditworthy adult who agrees to be responsible for the student loan in the event that the student is unable to make timely payments themselves. Adding a cosigner reduces the risk of defaulting on a loan. Because of this, lenders are more likely to approve loans when there is an additional person responsible for paying back the borrowed money.
Having a cosigner can also bring down the costs of student loans. Even if a student is able to obtain a loan without a cosigner, adding an additional creditworthy borrower to the loan can sometimes result in a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment. When researching student loan options it is important to ask your lender about how a cosigner might benefit you.
Classes should be challenging. Funding college shouldn’t be.
That is why we are your one-stop-shop for all of your financial needs and tuition assistance. PYT Funds provides alternative solutions to the traditional student loan by combining crowdfunding with an alternative credit scoring model to improve your chances of being approved for a private student loan.
Private student loans are loans funded by banks or other lending institutions. It is often more difficult for a student to obtain a private student loan because they require an established credit history or a creditworthy cosigner, yet federal student aid does not. While every student situation can vary, there are some students who are unable to finance the entirety of their education with federal student aid alone.
If you find yourself wondering, “How will I pay my tuition?” You are in luck, PYT can help. With our proprietary non-traditional process, we are able to bypass the inflexible traditional student loan requirements by creating a space to crowdfund the remaining tuition balance to decrease the debt burden, and then employ our alternative credit scoring model to increase the likelihood of your private student loan getting approved.
There’s so much information available about financial aid for college or career school that it can be hard to tell the facts from fiction. We’ve got you covered! Here are some common myths—and the real scoop—about financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.
MYTH 1: My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.
FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income—such as your family size and your year in school—are taken into account.
TIP: When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well. In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!
MYTH 2: The 2018–19 FAFSA® form launches on Jan. 1.
FACT: The 2018–19 FAFSA form launched on Oct. 1. You should submit a FAFSA form as early as possible because some states and schools have limited funds.
MYTH 3: I should use my 2017 tax information to fill out the 2018–19 FAFSA® form.
FACT: You must use your 2016 tax information to complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form. (The requirements changed last year.) It doesn’t matter if you or your parents haven’t filed 2017 taxes yet, because the 2018–19 FAFSA form doesn’t need that information. You won’t have to update your FAFSA form after filing 2017 taxes either, because 2016 information is what’s required. If your financial situation has changed since 2016, complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form using the tax information it requires (2016), and then contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss the change in your situation. They can make updates to your FAFSA information if warranted.
MYTH 4: I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA® form.
FACT: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. But if you’re dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.
If you’re a dependent student, find out who is considered your parent for FAFSA purposes. (It’s not as obvious as you might think.)
MYTH 5: I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA® form.
FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.
You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do. If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in at fafsa.gov and submit a correction.
The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.
MYTH 6: If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.
FACT: You still have options! If you’ve received federal, state, and college aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, check out these 7 options.
MYTH 7: I should call “the FAFSA® people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.
FACT: No, you’ll have to contact your school. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid, so we won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it. You will have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it. Just keep in mind that each school has a different timeline for awarding financial aid.
MYTH 8: There’s only one FAFSA® deadline and that’s not until June.
FACT: Nope! There are at least three deadlines you need to check: your state, school, and federal deadlines. You can find the state and federal deadlines at fafsa.gov. You’ll need to check your school’s website for their FAFSA deadline. If you’re applying to multiple schools, make sure to check all of their deadlines and apply by the earliest one. Also, if you’re applying to any scholarships that require the FAFSA form, they might have a different deadline as well! Even if your deadlines aren’t for a while, we recommend you fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any aid.
MYTH 9: I only have fill out the FAFSA® form once.
FACT: You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.
MYTH 10: I can share an FSA ID with my parent(s).
FACT: Nope, if you’re a dependent student, then two people will need their own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form online:
You (the student)
One of your parents
An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as fafsa.gov.
If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need his or her own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form electronically. If your parent has more than one child attending college, he or she can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. You’ll need a unique email address for each FSA ID.
Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!
MYTH 11: Only students with good grades get financial aid.
FACT: While a high grade point average will help you get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when you first apply. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school.
MYTH 12: It costs money to submit the FAFSA® form.
FACT: Absolutely not! You NEVER have to pay to complete the FAFSA form when you go to fafsa.gov. If you’re paying a fee, you’re not on the official government website.
So what’s next?
Go to fafsa.gov and fill out the application. If you applied for admission to a college or career school and have been accepted, and you listed that school on your FAFSA form, the school will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper financial aid offer telling you how much aid you’re eligible for at the school.
Mia Johnson is a Management & Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
If you didn’t make payments on your federal student loans and are now in default, don’t get discouraged. It may seem like an overwhelming situation, but you have multiple options for getting out of default. Remember, it’s in your best interest to act quickly to resolve the default, because the consequences of default can be severe.
If you have a defaulted federal student loan owned by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), immediately contact ED’s Default Resolution Group. They will help you figure out the best way to resolve the default based on your individual circumstance.
Default Resolution Group
1-877-825-9923 TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing
Options for Getting Out of Default
You have three options for getting out of default: loan rehabilitation, loan consolidation, or repayment in full.
If you’re looking for another way to help pay for college, Federal Work-Study may be a great option for you. Work-study is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on- (and sometimes off-) campus jobs. The program gives students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while pursuing a college degree. However, not every school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Schools that do participate have a limited amount of funds they can award to eligible students. This is why it is so important for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form as early as possible, as some schools award work-study funds on a first-come, first-served basis.
Here are eight things you should know about the Federal Work-Study Program:
1. Being awarded Federal Work-Study does not guarantee you a job.
Accepting the Federal Work-Study funds you’re offered is just the first step. In order to receive those funds, you need to earn them, which means you need to start by finding a work-study job.
Some schools may match students to jobs, but most schools require the student to find, apply for, and interview for positions on their own, just like any other job. Either way, students who are interested in work-study or who have already been awarded work-study should contact the financial aid office at their school to find out whether positions are available, how to apply and how the process works at their school.
2. Not all work-study jobs are on campus.
The availability of work-study positions includes community service options with non-profit employers, which means some work-study jobs are available for off-campus work. (An example: reading to or tutoring children at local elementary schools.) If you are curious about securing a community service work-study position, contact the financial aid office or the career center on campus.
3. Work-study funds are not applied directly to your tuition.
Unlike other types of financial aid, work-study earnings are not applied directly to your tuition and fees. Students who are awarded work-study receive the funds in a paycheck as they earn them, based on hours worked, just like a normal job. These earnings are meant to help with the day-to-day expenses that students have and are not meant to cover large costs like tuition and housing.
4. Work-study jobs may be limited.
You may still be able to work on campus without work-study if your school does not have enough work-study funds or positions to cover all on-campus student employees. Many campuses offer jobs for students with or without work-study. Check with the student employment office on your campus to find out what is available.
5. Federal Work-Study is not guaranteed from year to year.
There are several factors that can determine whether or not you receive work-study from year to year. These include your family income or financial need, whether you used the work-study funds that were offered to you in a prior year, and/or how much work-study funding your school receives that year.
Contact your school for specific awarding criteria if you are interested in work-study. Typically, students who file the FAFSA form early and answer that they are interested in Federal Work-Study will have a better chance of being awarded funds from the program.
6. Pay may vary.
Work-study jobs vary in qualifications and responsibilities, so the pay will depend on the job that you are hired to do. Pay may also depend on your school’s policies and/or the minimum wage requirements in the state.
7. Hours worked may vary.
How many hours you work each week will depend on the type of job you get and your employer’s expectations. Most employment positions for students, however, will work around your class schedule and only require between 10 and 20 hours per week, but again—that can vary!
8. Work-study earnings are removed from your FAFSA calculation.
One of the benefits of earning income through a Federal Work-Study position is that those earnings do not count against you when you complete the FAFSA form. There’s a question on the FAFSA form that asks how much was earned through work-study during a particular tax year; make sure to answer that question accurately so the amount can be factored out. If you do not know how much you earned, you can contact the financial aid office at your school for help.