Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps you can take toward starting your college journey at Belhaven University. The FAFSA opens up opportunities such as grants and student loan programs that can help lower your out of pocket college expenses. Here are seven things to do AFTER you complete the FAFSA.
1. Find your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. If your application is complete, your EFC will display in the upper right-hand corner of your Student Aid Report (SAR). If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but it will tell you what you need to do to resolve any issues. To understand how the EFC is used, review the following formula, which is what schools use to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid offer:
Cost of Attendance (COA)
– Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial need
Belhaven University will then do our best to meet your financial need (not your full cost of attendance).
2. Double-check BlazeNet for additional required documentation. Be sure to follow up and check Blazenet for updates on your financial aid application. Sometimes we need additional paperwork or have other internal deadlines. By not following up, you could be leaving money on the table!
3. Make corrections or updates if you need to. It is important to make sure that all of your FAFSA data is correct and complete. While most information cannot be updated because it must reflect your situation as of the day you originally signed your application, there are certain items that must be updated if they change.
4. Keep your Belhaven counselors aware of any major changes to your family’s financial situation. You have already submitted your 2020-2021 FAFSA form – so you know that you had to report income from 2018. If your family’s situation has changed in a significant way since 2018, you can request a professional judgment review from Belhaven University. Contact Student Financial Services if your family has any other special circumstances that affect your financial situation.
5. Apply for scholarships. In some cases, we are not able to meet every student’s financial need; therefore, there may be a gap between your aid offer and the direct costs. Scholarships are a great way to fill this gap because they’re gifts—meaning they don’t need to be repaid!
Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can. You’ll probably have a lot of time between when you submit your FAFSA form and when you start class. Aim to apply for at least one scholarship a week. There are thousands of them, offered by employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.
6. Consider what aid to accept. When considering what financial aid to accept, a general rule is:
free money first (scholarships and grants),
then earned money (work-study),
and then borrowed money (federal student loans).
If you need to borrow money, figure out which loans offer you the best terms. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to accept less loan money than a school offers. Borrow only what you need.
7. Figure out how you’ll fill your financial aid gap. We have already touched on applying for scholarships, but there are other options to consider if you didn’t receive enough financial aid. Be sure to contact Student Financial Services. We can help you assess your options. Contact Student Financial Services today at 601-968-5933 or e-mail StudentAid@belhaven.edu