Is your homeschooler getting ready for college?  Do you have questions about what kind of federal aid you might be eligible for?  Over 71% of college students will graduate with student loan debt. What a frightening thought!  We don’t want your student to be a part of that 71%, so we have done the research for you and created some resources to help you along the college and financial aid journey.

First, you must understand Federal Student Aid.

Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the country.  The Federal Student Aid office works to assist college education funding by providing billions of dollars in federal grants, workstudy funds, and loans each year to millions of students hoping to go to college.  If your homeschooler wants to attend college, but needs financial assistance, filling out the FAFSA is a wise choice.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary school.  The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, work study, and loan amounts.

 The following are some good FASFA financial aid strategies to help you maximize your eligibility for need-based aid:

  1. Reducing income during base years.
  2. Reducing “included” assets.  Converting included assets into non-included assets will increase eligibility by sheltering you from the need analysis process. However, most financial planners recommend that parents maintain a contingency fund equal to six months salary in relatively liquid form for emergencies and other unforeseeable circumstances.
  3. Increasing the number of family members enrolled in college and pursuing a degree or certificate at the same time. The family contribution is split among all children who will be enrolled in college.
  4. Taking advantage of the differences in the way the need analysis process assesses the assets and income of the student and his or her parents.
  5. Changing the student’s status from dependent to independent. This is generally not a simple process.

For more information about FASFA financial aid strategies, check here.
Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans that help eligible students cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college, university, community college, trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, also known as Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans.  You can find out more about these loans here.

Don’t forget- there are other forms of financial aid, as well.  Some homeschool students may be eligible for scholarships.  There are several organizations, schools, and private donors that offer homeschool scholarships to help students obtain a college degree. Since many homeschooled students don’t have access to a high school guidance department, it’s important to inquire about scholarship opportunities through the community, churches, parents’ employers, and online searches that list homeschool scholarships and resources.

Have a look at some of our top 9 ways to find assistance!

  1. Local service or professional organizations. Oftentimes, these organizations offer scholarships. A few to consider include Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Club.
  1. Inquire at your church. Sometimes they offer scholarships to families within their community or going into the ministry.
  2. Check out Achievement opportunities! If you are looking for places to start, try Elks Most Valuable Student Competition, AXA Achievement Community Scholarship and Robert C Byrd Honors Scholarships.
  3. Try large corporations. Many of them give the next generation of students the chance to earn money for their college years. Try the Coca Cola Scholarship, the Ronald McDonald House Charity US Scholarships, and the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.
  4. If you are interested in Science and Mathematics, check out SMART (Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program).
  5. Varsity Tutors: Monthly $1,000 college scholarship contest where students write an essay in response to a monthly prompt. Visitors to the Varsity Tutors scholarship webpage are able to vote via social media for submitted entries. The top five entries with the most votes are reviewed by Varsity Tutors at the end of the month and one winner is subsequently chosen to receive the $1,000 college scholarship. Interested students can enter the contest here.
  6. Check where you work or where you have memberships. Many companies will give employees benefits for their kids going to college.
  7. Research websites that compile scholarships for you! Here are our top three: College Financial Aid Advice, Imagine America, and Fastweb.
  8. Attend our Financial Aid webinar! We will address what financial aid is, the types of aid available to your students, and how to use federal aid programs. Click here to register!

Billions of dollars are given every year to students, helping them get through college!  Make sure you and your student take the time to research the best options for your family.

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