Can I afford to go to college?
“Can I afford to go to college?” This is a question that many high school seniors and their families are asking themselves at this time of the year as they wait to see what financial aid they will receive after applying for admission to a college of their choosing.
While the question seems complex, there are several important steps that need to be taken right now to help get the needed information for educated decisions:
1. Finalize your admission to all the schools you are interested in. This is not absolutely necessary, but it is a smart step.
2. Finish your 2012 tax return. This is the first and necessary step in getting the financial aid process rolling.
3. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application can be found at the following site and as the name suggests, it is free. Do not pay to have someone else fill this out for you. If you need free help filing the FAFSA, be sure to attend a College Goal Sunday event on Sunday, Feb. 24 from 2-4 p.m. in the following cities locally: Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, Plymouth and Warsaw. Visit College Goal Sunday to find out exactly where events take place or for more information.
4. Make sure you meet the March 10 Indiana deadline for the FAFSA and list all of the schools you are considering, even if you have not applied yet or been admitted to some of them.
5. Wait to finalize your decision until you have received financial aid packages from all of the colleges you are considering. Remember to look carefully at all aid packages because there is not a standard form and comparing them can be a challenge. You also need to make sure you find out if there are any hidden fees that will significantly add to your costs.
It is important to make an educated decision based on the value that you and your family place on a particular school. The school that costs a family the least is not necessarily the best value for them. Students need to know that the academic program they are choosing is a great fit, but they also want to be comfortable on the campus socially.
If you have any questions as you go through the financial aid process, feel free to contact the financial aid office of a college you are considering. They will be happy to help you.
The Goshen College Financial Aid Office can be reached here or by calling 1-800-348-7422 (or 574-535-7525 local).