February 12, 2009

SEEKING GRANTS - Free Money - Need-based financial aid


Cal Grant A for Undergraduates = Up to $9,708 annual award
Deadline to apply: March 2
Forms required: FAFSA, verified GPA
**Eligibility requirements: 3.0 high school GPA or 2.4 college GPA, financial need

Cal Grant B for Undergraduates = $1,551 (first year) $9,708+$1,551 annual
Deadline to apply: March 2
Forms required: FAFSA, verified GPA
**Eligibility requirements: 2.0 high school GPA, financial need

Cal Grant C for Technical and career students = $3,168 annual award
Deadline to apply: March 2
Forms required: FAFSA, Cal Grant C Supplement Form
**Eligibility requirements: Financial need

Cal Grant A & B Transfer Entitlement Awards for California Community College students = Up to $9,708 annual award
Deadline to apply: March 2
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: verified GPA 2.4 Calif. Comm. College GPA, financial need, graduated highs school after 7.1.2000.

Federal Pell Grant for Undergraduates = $500 - $5,350 annual award
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FASFA
**Eligibility requirements: Financial need according to your EFC and COA

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) for Undergraduates = $4,000 annual award
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: Financial need according your EFC and COA (not all colleges offer FSEOG)

Federal Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) for Pell Grant-eligible 1st & 2nd-year students attending at least half time
Up to $750 first up to $1,300 second year
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: Must also receive a Pell Grant; must successfully complete a rigorous high school program; 3.0 cumulative college GPA

National SMART Grant for Pell Grant-eligible 3rd & 4th-year students attending as least half time = Up to $4,000 each year
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: Receive a Pell Grant and major in physical, life or computer sciences, technology, math or engineering, or certain foreign languages

University of California Student Aid for UC under-graduates and graduate students = Average grant award $8,500
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: Financial need

State University Grant for CSU under-graduates & graduate students = Fully system wide fees
Contact your financial aid office
Forms required: FAFSA
**Eligibility requirements: Financial need

**Other eligibility requirements may apply.

February 11, 2009

Cal Grants are Free Money

You can receive up to $9,700 for college or up to $3,000 for career or technical training each year from the state of California. Your Cal Grant follows you to whichever California school you choose. A Cal Grant can be used at any University of California, California State University or California Community College, most independent colleges, and many career and technical schools in California. You can even use it to transfer from a community college to a four-year college or university. The best part about this is…you don’t have to pay it back!

How do you apply for a Cal Grant?

1. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible starting January 1 and no later than the postmark (or electronically transmitted) deadline of March 2.

2. Submit your verified Cal Grant GPA (or GED, SAT or ACT score under some circumstances) by the March 2 deadline.

2.00 GPA (minimum) + 2 Forms (FAFSA & GPA Verification) + 1 Deadline = Up to $9,700 annually.

Go to http://www.calgrants.org/ for Cal Grant Income and Asset Ceilings

February 10, 2009

What's an EFC? The Results of your FAFSA

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Your expected family contribution, or EFC, is the amount of money the government believes you and your family could reasonably contribute toward your education for the school year. Calculated using a federal formula to evaluate the information you provide on your FAFSA, you will find your EFC on your Student Aid Report (SAR), which you will receive after submitting your FAFSA.

Your EFC will stay the same no matter which college you attend. However, you may be eligible for different types and amounts of aid at different colleges, since each college has its own cost of attendance (COA) and financial aid funds.

Keep in mind that your EFC may or may not be the actual amount you end up paying for college. For example, your college’s cost of attendance includes actual costs for tuition and fees, as well as average costs for housing, food, transportation and personal expenses. You may spend less or more than these averages. If your college is unable to meet all of your financial need, your actual contribution may be more than your calculated EFC.

Your College Cost of Attendance (COA)

Each college has its own student budget or cost of attendance (COA), which includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, transportation and personal expenses for the school year. It may also include money for a computer.

Your COA will vary depending on where you live (with your parents, on or on campus) and the college you attend. If you have children or other dependents that require care while you go to class, your COA may also include these expenses. If you have a disability, let your college’s financial aid office know about any related expenses that are not already covered.

Your Financial Need

Each college you list on your FAFSA, and are accepted to, will determine your eligibility for financial aid, also known as your financial need.

Your COA minus Your EFC = Your financial need

Your financial need will vary from college to college because each college has its own COA. Find more information on your SAR (Student Aid Report), results from your FAFSA application. http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

February 9, 2009

GEAR UP Awards

If your child received a federal GEAR UP award for college while in middle school, you may use the funds to pay for college if you complete your high school education on time and enroll in an eligible post secondary school within a year. Your annual fall letter from the California Student Aid Commission will explain how to access your award. You'll find general information on the GEAR UP program at http://www.castategearup.org/. For questions, call toll-free 888-224.7268 or e-mail Gear-Up@csac.ca.gov.

New Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

Under the new Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, if you served at least 30 days of continuous active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces after September 10, 2001, you may be eligible for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. This program provides funding for tuition, fees and other education-related expenses. For Eligibility and benefit information, visit http://www.gibill.va.gov/.

If you are currently in the military or reserves, take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill. If you are not signed up, do so today. This resource only lasts for so long after your discharge. Use it as soon as possible to pay your bills, rent, transportation, computer for school, or for miscellaneous expenses. You do have to pay into it to accumulate your balance while you are serving, but it's worth it in the long run. You never know if your job will be stable after you leave the service. Your education will always be with you, nobody can take that away from you.

February 8, 2009

How to Get Free Money for College - Part 1

President Obama is restoring our privilege to seek college options, based on a news release to increase Pell Grant from $4,050 to $5,350 on Yahoo News.

There are many websites out there with an abundance of information on how to get free money for college. But, what they don't tell you...it's not easy. The truth is, it takes a lot of ground work on your part to find that free money. Once you find the school you are interested in, be prepared to ask your financial aid advisor a lot of questions. Before you do, have your homework completed and game plan in place.

Keep in mind, most financial aid advisers are trained to process paperwork. They are not trained to find you free money unless you ask first. Finding free money is your job! Many become disappointed after their first appointment with financial aid. They believe that this person behind the desk is supposed to have all the answers and resources to free money. In a perfect world, they should. Well...guess again, they can only check your qualifications by having you fill out an application called FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA application can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

If you don't qualify for the free money, you most likely will walk out feeling very disappointed. But, if you do qualify, the doors will begin to open for you. Depending on the type of college; most financial aid offices will have resources for free money, you just need to ask. Therefore, preparation is key before seeking a college education.

Yes, free money is out there, but it's totally up to you to find it. The hardest part is qualifying. If you don't qualify for the free money don't be discouraged; there are other ways to fund your tuition, such as low interest federal loans. The reason why most people don't qualify for free money from the government is because it's all based on need. The needier you are, the more free money you can get.

So...bottom line -- you have to be making minimum wage are no wages; or have a medium to large family size that makes less then $40,000 a year. If you are not under this category; don't quit your job or lower your income, or even make more babies just to show on your income tax return that you are needy. Yes, it helps to be needy to qualify for free aid; but can you afford to live day to day and go to college?

The FAFSA application is based on your current federal tax return and the federal worksheet. Complete the FAFSA application online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. On the worksheet, it will ask you to fill out everyone in your household that you provide more than half of their support. This does not include children that don't live with you and you provide child support. The amount of people you indicate on the worksheet should match the amount of people you claim on your federal tax return.

For females, you should also include your unborn child if you are expecting in the year you are applying. If you are a single parent to be, your unborn child counts as part of your household. This changes your status to an Independent student, versus Dependent student.

A dependent student is required to use the income of their parents to qualify. If you are considered an independent student, the income information is based on your sole support. How do you support yourself, do you work or does your parents provide for you? If you live with your parents and you don't work, you would indicate on the worksheet of the FAFSA the cash value you receive from support, such as food, rent, clothing, etc.

In other words, how much allowance do you get? Even if you don't pay rent, your parent's do for you. They also pay for your food and clothing and gas or car expenses. This is considered cash according to the government. Figure the average costs your parents pay for you each month and times that by twelve months, this is your yearly income. If you're not sure how much your parents pay for you, just estimate the minimum costs per month. Remember, you're not working, so your income should be below minimum wage per year.

See my post dated February 10, 2009, What's an EFC? The Results of your FAFSA for more information on how the FAFSA application is determined.