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How do I get Financial Aid for School?

Getting financial aid for school is something with which many students must deal at least once a year. For those who have never been through the process, it can be somewhat intimidating. Still, as long as the student takes the process step by step, getting financial aid for school is relatively easy. In addition to federal programs such as the Pell grant, there are student loans and other options. Some students may be able to obtain a college scholarship as well.

In the majority of cases, getting financial aid for school starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is quite involved, often taking at least an hour to complete. The application must be completed each year and will help determine eligibility for the Pell grant and other financial aid program options. Beginning the process starts with receiving a personal identification number (PIN). Keep this number in a safe place. It can be used to log onto an account each year, thus saving the need to re-enter all the same information again. Only annual statistics, like income, will need adjusted.

For those who are concerned about the process, or who have questions along the way, it is always a good idea to check with your college's financial aid office. Counselors there have only one job - to make sure you get the financial aid for school you need. They can often work with people with all kinds of credit problems. Often, because student loans are backed by the Federal Government, there is an easier time securing loans for college.

Another opportunity to check for at the student loan office is any available scholarships. Most financial aid offices will have a list of scholarships offered, the qualifications, deadlines and any other relevant data. Scholarships are one of the best ways to get financial aid for school. They can significantly cut down on the amount of debt a student may need to incur. It is important to remember that the scholarship list at any individual school may not be comprehensive. Online sources are another good option for finding scholarships.

In most cases, there are two types of loans students may need to concern themselves with. One is the subsidized loan and the other is the unsubsidized loan. Subsidized loans are available for those who qualify. With this type of loan, the Federal Government will pay the interest while the student is in school, and for six months after graduation. Subsidized loans will often pay for most of one's schooling, if they qualify. Unsubsidized loans can make up the rest.

For those who fill out the FAFSA, there is often no other forms needed in order to get financial aid for school, at least in the form of loans. For those receiving loans through the Federal Family Education Loan program, they may need to choose a lender. Direct loans, which come from the Department of Education, require no such step.

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