Financial Aid 101

This webinar provide information and clarity on the entire college financial aid application process. Learn about financial aid applications and types of financial aid, the factors that determine your aid eligibility, how colleges determine the amount of aid to offer, and the details of financial aid offers. 

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

[00:00:00] Hello, my name is Julie Shields Rutina, and I'm the Director of College Planning, Education, and Training at MIFA, and today we're going to talk about financial aid.

A little bit about MIFA. MIFA was created in 1982 Students and families plan, save and pay for college, and we continue to do that today with the state's college savings plans and with numerous resources to help students with their college and career planning, and especially about the admissions process and financial aid and how to pay that college bill.

So today we're going to talk about financial aid. The topics today will be the types and sources of financial aid, the application process. And then how financial aid decisions are made. [00:01:00] Near the end, we'll talk about paying for college, how do families pay for college, and throughout, I will talk about free resources for you.

So first, the types and sources of financial aid. So financial aid is any money that this will be given to the student to help the student pay for college. And we sometimes say that it can be three different types. It can be grants and scholarships, which really is the best type of financial aid. That is money that is given to the student and does not need to be repaid.

So grants and scholarships can sometimes be interchangeably used. So I think the most important thing to know is that it is money that is given to the student off the cost. of higher education. But there are two other types of aid. One is work programs, the most common being the federal work study program, where a student is awarded an allotment of money and they [00:02:00] can get a job on campus, which they still need to do, they need to get a job on campus or while they're a student, and then they can be paid through the work study program.

study program, which allows a college to hire a lot more students to do a lot of jobs around campus. And I, I like to say that students have, you know, a couple of different choices. One being to be able to get a job in something that's, um, important to them in the field that they might be studying. So maybe they get a job in a lab, if they're a chemistry major, something like that.

Or they can also get a job doing something really easy, like sitting at the entrance to the gym or the library and making sure they, you know, people sign in on their way in or they, they hit a clicker to keep the numbers correct. And then that way they can sit and read and do homework. So those can be good jobs for college students as well.

And lastly, uh, third type of aid is federal [00:03:00] student loans. Um, and we get the most pushback about this, of how can loans be aid? But these federal student loans are, have some very specific, uh, benefits, which we'll talk about right now. So that's why they can be considered financial aid. So what are these federal direct student loans?

Well, they are loans that are, are, the student is the sole borrower, okay? So they don't need. a cosigner on this loan and, and that's, that's different and unusual because the students are usually young, maybe don't have a credit history, but it's okay. They can still receive this loan with the idea that they're going to go to college, get a job and be able to repay it.

So student is the sole borrower and there's no credit check down on these loans. There are two types. Of federal direct student loans, subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized means that the federal government pays the [00:04:00] interest while the student is in college. And unsubsidized means that doesn't happen, that the interest does continue to accrue once borrowed.

But either way, the student does not have to start repaying these loans until six months after graduation. So, that's also unsubsidized. Help and how much subsidized versus unsubsidized a student receives has to do with financial need and the application process. The interest rate on the federal direct student loans changes every year, um, usually in the early summer.

Um, currently it is 5.5%. But that's for the 23 24 academic year. So for the 24 25 academic year, that should be set in May of 2024 and a few other pieces about this loan. One is their annual loan limits. So a freshman can borrow 5500, a sophomore can borrow [00:05:00] 6500 and a junior or senior can borrow 7500 per year.

So those are limits. If a student were to take The full federal direct student loans available to them during a four year college degree, then they would owe about 27, 000 total when they graduate and. On a standard repayment plan, the payment on that loan per month would be about 300 a month for 10 years, but there are many other options for the students.

So maybe a student would be able to make that payment because of their future job, and maybe they would even be able to pay in advance, and there's never a penalty for that. But if not, let's say the student takes a job that it. Does not the income does not allow them to pay that or they need to get an apartment and a car and they just are not able to make that payment.

They have a choice of many other repayment plans. The most popular being an [00:06:00] income based plan. And the newest one of those is called the safe plan where a student signs up and then they pay an amount that is a percentage of their income while they need that. And then they can always. they can just pay more if needed.

But if not, they can, uh, They can just pay that amount that's tied to their income. And just also on these loans, there's some special deferment forbearance and forgiveness opportunities. So those are all the reasons that this loan is part of financial aid that's awarded to the student. And so what are the sources of all this financial aid?

There's a lot of financial aid awarded to students each year. As you can see in the gold box, 177 billion was awarded to students. In the academic year. 2223. Um, it comes from the federal government. It comes from the state, Massachusetts, a whole lot of it comes from the colleges and universities [00:07:00] themselves, and when, when you go through the financial aid process of applying, you're applying for all federal state and college and university aid.

So it is one process for all of that. The one. Part that's outside of that is in the orange box, which is just outside scholarships, private scholarships. And so that's a process that the student would take care of outside of the financial aid process. A couple of ways to do that. You could use some scholarship searches online.

We list a few here, me for pathway. org, fastweb. com. There are many others, or And I should say, uh, students should also look to their high schools, to any religious organizations, community organizations in their towns, um, parents, employers, all of that, to see if there are any outside scholarships, um, that they could apply for.[00:08:00]

And then all of this aid is awarded based on a couple of factors, the first being merit and merit means that there is aid that is awarded in the recognition of your students achievements. So, most of the time that's actually academic, but you also of course hear about sports scholarships, music scholarships, the student might have some other talent that um, brings them to a program and they can receive a merit based award for that.

Um, some merit based aid, most of it is renewable, but sometimes there's a, um, a caveat, like the student needs to keep a grade point average of 3. 0 to To receive that aid in future years. So make sure you understand that. Um, not every college offers merit based aid, but a lot do, uh, one grouping of colleges that does not is say the Ivy leagues and some of those colleges that compete with the Ivy leagues, [00:09:00] um, don't always offer merit based aid.

Other than that, most colleges do have some merit based aid. Um, one thing you should just always look on the college financial aid section of their website to make sure there's not another special form that a student might need to complete, um, for a special enrollment. Merit based scholarship and then need based aid and the majority of aid is based on the students and families financial need as determined by the financial aid applications that you will file and it's the eligibility is determined by a standardized formula across all students and students do need to be making satisfactory academic progress to receive need based financial aid.

So let's talk about that application process. All right, just to know the timeline, um, every college has their own deadlines for [00:10:00] admissions and for financial aid. So pay attention to that and stay organized with it. We have something on our website called the College Application Manager. You can download that.

You can also just use a spreadsheet, but every college that the student is thinking of applying to, you should just make note of all of those deadlines. Um, the typical application process follows the admissions process. It's not exact, but It's usually close. So if a college has a January 1st admission, January 15th admissions deadline, then they may have a January 30th financial aid deadline, something like that.

But again, pay attention to the different deadlines on each college website. If a student is applying early action or early decision through the admissions office, then there are usually some early deadlines. financial aid deadlines in October and November, so pay attention to those. If not, if a [00:11:00] student is applying regular decision, then financial aid deadlines are typically in February and March, but definitely meet the application deadlines.

Just apply As early as possible, and then you'll, you'll, you'll be in front of all those deadlines. So the main financial aid form that every college requires is called the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and you must complete it every year. It, Typically is available in the fall. This current year that we're in right now, the 23 24 academic year, there are huge delays with the FAFSA.

The FAFSA has received an overhaul, which is a good thing. It's going to be easier and simpler in the future, hopefully, um, in the fall for those students applying next year. Uh, but it's, it's been, I'm just going to [00:12:00] say it's been a big mess this year. It's delayed. And then even when it did become available on January 1st, there were lots of errors and the colleges have been very slow to receive information from the federal government.

So this year, hopefully, is an anomaly and we'll be back to normal in the fall, meaning that hopefully the FAFSA will be available in the fall and you applying in the fall, you'll be completing the 2526 FAFSA. And a

couple of terms. A contributor is the name of any person whose information is going to appear on the FAFSA. So I'll just point out it doesn't mean any person who's going to necessarily pay, just any person who needs to complete information on the FAFSA. So the way that it works best is for the student to start the FAFSA and then invite their contributors.

And then the [00:13:00] contributors do their section, and the last contributor can press submit and send the FAFSA along. Before you file the FAFSA, every contributor, meaning the student and either one parent or two, will need an FSA ID, which is a username and password. So, you can go to the website studentaid. gov slash FSA ID create account and create an FSA ID at any time, but make sure you write it down somewhere, put it in your phone, um, and have that username and password.

And then you can go in and start the FAFSA. Um, to create an FSA ID, you need an email address. And if A student's parents don't have a social security number, there is a process to get an FSA ID. It's that the parent will have to answer some knowledge based questions from a credit [00:14:00] history, um, go through that process and be able to get an FSA ID.

So what's reported on the FAFSA? Students citizenship status is reported, and it's important to know that all U. S. citizens and eligible non citizens can receive federal financial aid. One note is that undocumented students may now be able to receive Massachusetts in state tuition and state financial aid.

Not federal, but state. And there is a process for that, so students can go to You can go to OSFA, Office of Student Financial Aid Assistance here in Massachusetts, and file that financial aid form, which is called the MASFA. Um, you'll put in the colleges you're applying to, students, and then parents will put in information about their marital status, about the number of people in household, the number of children in college, um, and please note that legal guardians are [00:15:00] not a parent.

So if a student has legal guardians, they're filing, um, this form on their own. And more about what's reported on the FAFSA is income from both parents and students. Um, so next fall, when you're applying for the, for financial aid, you'll be using 2023 income for the 25 26 FAFSA. The nice thing about this new FAFSA, this, this simplified FAFSA, hopefully, um, is that Your information gets pulled directly from the IRS, making the form a lot shorter and a lot easier to complete, but when you go in, you just need to give consent.

Yes, you can pull in my IRS information and both taxed and untaxed income that appears on your tax return will be included. And then you'll be asked a few questions about your assets, both parents and students. So you'll include the value of your [00:16:00] savings, checking and investments and all business and farms and other property.

If you have 529 plans, they are considered an asset of the parent, which is a good thing because they're treated much more leniently than a student asset. Um, and so currently a parent would go in and put in the value of a 529 account just for the student whose FAFSA they're completing at the moment.

Some things you don't include on the FAFSA are your, the value of your primary home, the value of your retirement accounts, and the value of your life insurance. Thanks. And one additional asset child support received is now considered an asset. You would just put that in as an asset. There's not a lot of information to put about debt on the FAFSA, except as it applies to, you know, you have a, um, an investment and you owe something on it.

Um, that's on there, but otherwise there isn't a lot about consumer debt or [00:17:00] anything like that. That's something you would have to share with the financial aid office. Outside.

So I mentioned that every college requires the FAFSA, some colleges require an additional form called the CSS profile form of the College Board, and usually it's colleges that have a lot of their own institutional scholarship and grant money. And so it's well worth completing. Um, and you need to anyway, to receive any of any of this financial aid.

If the college requires it, you go to cssprofile. org and this one has a fee. So you pay 25 to send your, this form to one school and 16 for each additional college. Um, but it's well worth it. Um, and fee waivers are available for, um, uh, a family that's That earns under 100, 000, so you won't be paying a fee if.

Family income is under 100, [00:18:00] 000. This will become available October 1st. This hasn't changed. And so you might as well complete the CSS profile if it's required by at least one of your colleges as soon as possible, you know, October 1st. Something additional is that if parents are divorced or separated um, then it will ask the non custodial parent To complete a separate profile, and then that information doesn't get shared, but the custodial parent and the non custodial parent will each be completing, um, a separate profile.

And we do have a webinar every fall called what to know about the CSS profile. So you can watch that. And I didn't mention this when I talked about the FAFSA, but with the FAFSA, if a student's parents are divorced or separated, it's the parent who gives the student more financial support that completes the FAFSA with the student.

In the case of the FAFSA, the other parent does not need to [00:19:00] complete a FAFSA. But in the case of the CSS profile, they probably. And as I also mentioned, just keep a note that a college may have a small separate financial aid application for a certain scholarship or something like that. So just look on in the financial aid section at the different colleges on the website to see if there's a short form that they ask you to complete and download or upload.

Then after you apply. The colleges that you listed in the state, um, will receive the data electronically and the student will receive an FSS, a FAFSA submission summary by email. Um, after that, colleges may be in touch with you. Um, there's a process called verification, whereby they just want to double check on all of the information provided for a certain number of students.

That's a federally required process. [00:20:00] And, um, so. Just pay attention to your email and make sure you answer any questions that the financial aid office may have at that time. And then colleges review your applications and come up with a financial aid offer for the student. Um, and usually, Except for this crazy year.

Um, usually the financial aid offer is sent very close to the offer of admission, you know, could come in the same package. It could come a week later, two weeks later, but usually in the similar timeframe, because colleges know you need that information to be able to make a decision. Um, so please know that just that this current year.

Everything has been delayed and a lot of families are still waiting for financial aid offers here in April. And I talked about this verification process, so just know that the college may be in touch and ask you to submit different things like a tax return transcript, an asset account [00:21:00] statement, all of that.

So pay attention. A few things about the financial aid office. Once you have applied to a college and applied for financial aid, the financial aid office becomes a terrific resource for you to ask questions and stay in touch with. So one thing, if you receive a financial aid offer, you might, might want to make sure that it's very clear in the documentation about the renewability of the offer.

Most colleges will give you an offer and it's for four years. If that's not clear, definitely ask those questions. Um, I mentioned that sometimes a merit offer may have a, uh, some criteria attached, like keeping a certain grade point average. You could also ask if you bring in a private scholarship from your high school or something, how does that affect your financial aid?

Um, usually, uh, that will just help pay for any unmet need or. Um, maybe allow you to borrow less of a loan or something like that, but it's worth asking because that can vary [00:22:00] from college to college. Let's say you apply for financial aid and then someone in the family, a parent or something, loses a job.

Um, something like that. You would want to report to the financial aid office immediately and they might have an appeal form or you can just send in some information to say I've had this big change in my family circumstances so that the college has that information to see if they need to adjust your financial aid offer.

So call the college and they'll let you know the process for that. And Also, different colleges will have different, um, ways of getting in touch, phone calls, emails, chat, uh, they may assign you to a certain counselor or they may have you call through the front desk. It really depends. College to college.

So now I'm going to talk about how financial aid decisions are made at the college. So you've done your part. What are they doing behind the scenes? Well the first thing a college [00:23:00] financial aid office needs to do is figure out how much it is going to cost a student to be at the college for a full year.

All costs. So they have to include tuition and fees. food, housing, books, supplies, transportation, personal expenses like shampoo and pizza, and transportation, maybe thus fair, well I guess that's under transportation, but any miscellaneous expenses. So, Once the college has determined that, and you can see, this is both billed expenses that will be billed to you and non billed expenses that you know the student is going to need.

They are going to have to buy some books. They might have to take a bus. Um, they are going to need, you know, personal toiletries, things like that. So, um, what is the full cost that they need to attend? And then from the information that you put on the financial aid forms, I mentioned [00:24:00] there's a formula, um, there's going to be a number that pops out of that formula.

And that is called the Student Aid Index. And for those of you who have older students, it has been called the Expected Family Contribution all these years. But now it's going to be called the Student Aid Index. And that number is representative of your family's financial strength. So, everyone gets paid.

their information put through the same formula. In this formula, income weighs much more heavily than assets. That's important to know. Some colleges use two formulas. They use the federal formula and then through the CSS profile or another form they use an institutional formula for their own institutional aid.

And the thought behind all of this is that families In this country are asked to pay for college contribute to college to the extent that they are able to, um, and [00:25:00] then financial aid kicks in. So, um, that's that's how it works. We do have an S. A. I. Calculator on our website on me for dot org. And you can play around with that.

And that might give you a sense of how much you may be expected to contribute toward. Your students education. So then we have the cost of attendance minus your student aid index and the difference equals your families, your students, financial aid eligibility and colleges. Then. Work to create a financial aid offer to meet as much of that financial aid eligibility as they can.

Now there are some colleges that promise to meet the full need of all students who are accepted and that's wonderful. They would come up with a financial aid offer that would meet that full financial aid eligibility. And some other colleges with fewer resources do their best to meet as much of it [00:26:00] as they can, but sometimes they don't.

So let's show you some examples. So let me pretend here that I'm a financial aid officer. I'm not, but I used to be. Um, and let's talk about how as a pretend financial aid officer, I would create a financial aid offer. for your student. So my pretend college costs 45, 000 all in and your student aid index, I believe in this case is 5, 000.

So I'm first going to say, okay, the family's going to pay 5, 000. And then I am going to give this student a grant based on your need as a family and also a scholarship because your student has been working really hard and has a very good grades. And then I'm going to award that student loan, that federal direct student loan that we talked about in the maximum amount, [00:27:00] 5, 500, a work study allotment of 2, 000.

So your student can get a job on campus, earn 2, 000 to pay some of those unbilled expenses, but expenses that he or she will have. And then this pretend college that I work for is not one that promises to meet the full need of all students. So there's a little bit of unmet need there. So really what this means then as a family for your student to attend, you would need to come up with 10, 000 per year, your student aid index.

And the unmet need that I was not able to cover with financial aid. So, um, another I mentioned that SAI calculator on the website. Also, all colleges have net price calculators on their own websites, which are very specific. Not only do they tell you what your student aid index is, they also sometimes give an estimate.

Um, estimate of a financial aid offer that they [00:28:00] might be able to award to your students. So it's worth if you have two or three top colleges you're thinking about, it's worth it maybe to do some of these net price calculators just to get a sense of the aid package. You might receive. I would say you don't want to make any hard and fast decisions based on these calculators.

They are estimates. But the way I used these with my own Children, my when they were students is I wouldn't say don't apply to that college. The net price calculator wasn't showing that it's going to give a lot of aid. But I might say, and I did, um, you know, On this one college, when I did the net price calculator, there wasn't a whole lot of financial aid.

So maybe you should add a couple of colleges to your list and apply to a couple of different colleges that might I'll that they might give you a little more aid, just so you'll have a lot of options and choices when it comes time to make that final choice. [00:29:00] All right. And then here's what you'll probably find sometime in the spring of the student's senior year.

You'll find that you're receiving financial aid offers, hopefully some positive admissions decisions and some financial aid offers. from all different colleges. And what you're going to see is that they vary greatly from college to college. So this is another critical time where you and your student want to sit together and look at these offers and really make sure you're making a wise and affordable decision.

So College A here, in this example, all of these colleges cost the same, 45, 000, and your student aid index is 5, 000, so your aid eligibility as a family is 40, 000. College A has given a financial aid offer of 40, 000. So that's a college that meets your full need. That's wonderful. College B has also given [00:30:00] you a good financial aid offer, 25, 000 in grants and scholarships, the loan, the work study, but they've only been able to give you 33, 000, so they're leaving an unmet need of 7, 000, which you would have to come up with as a family.

And College C has awarded even less. And leaving 15, 000 that you would have to come up with as a family. So this is where those kitchen table conversations with your student are going to be huge. Um, because coming up with 5, 000 per year versus 20, 000 per year, as in the case of College C, can be a big difference for your family.

It's not just for one year, it's for four. And so, maybe your student says, but mom, College C is my favorite. So You know, you could have suggest a few things. You could say, well, I understand that, but this is, this is less affordable. Let's go back and let's go to accepted student day at College [00:31:00] A. Let's call the admissions office at College B and ask your questions to make sure that the program there is everything you thought it might be.

Let's get in touch with College C and be honest with them and tell them, you know, you, this is our first choice, College C, but we've received more aid from other places. Is there anything I can share about our financial situation that might make a little bit of a difference? So those are some of your options when faced with these different offers.

And this slide. I'm going to point out, you want to just really pay attention to the different elements on the award offer, not just the bottom line. So here are these three colleges, A, B, and C. And at first glance here, it looks like they've all given you 35, 000. But that's really not the case once you start looking more closely.

First of all, you can see that, um, you didn't receive any work study at College [00:32:00] C. And maybe that's important for your student. Work Study is a good program. It just, you know, has your student checking in with some adults on campus, um, gets them earning a little pocket cash to pay those miscellaneous expenses.

You know, there's no work study here, this College C. And if you look even bigger, Colleges B and C have put something called a parent loan in there. And that is not financial aid. Um, we don't see a lot of this, but I see it enough that it's worth having this slide. You may end up taking a parent loan.

That's your decision once you do all the, calculate all the numbers. But counting that as part of the aid, Is not accurate. It's not allowing you to compare apples to apples. So take that out when you're making this comparison in your head. All right, so now let's get into paying for college. Let's say your student has decided on that college, college C, and the balance due is [00:33:00] It's going to be 20, 000.

Um, again, you might say that's not doable. Let's go back and look at colleges A and B. Let's actually look at a community college option first, and maybe you can transfer. You, you have a lot of options there, but let's say you've all decided we're going to make this work. How do you come up with 20, 000 per year?

And every family will do it a little bit differently. So I'm just showing you how one family might choose to do it. So this family might choose to say, well, the student has some savings from last year's summer job. So we're going to take a thousand of those savings. Parents have been saving in a 529 plan and you're going to take some of that to use 4, 000.

And then every college has something called a monthly payment plan. And that's not alone. It's just a way to break up the cost of education over 9, 10, 12 months versus the typical two payments in the fall in the spring. [00:34:00] So maybe this family just paid off a car loan and now has more In their budget per month, and so they're going to pay 500 times 10 months to the college to the monthly payment plan.

So that's worth 5, 000 and then this family needs to borrow an education loan. So that means over and above the student, the federal direct student loan, the family decides we're going to borrow a little more to cover this because I'd rather keep it. My 5 29 savings spread them out. We don't have more than the 500 to pay in that payment plan.

So we're going to borrow an education loan, and that could be from the federal plus program parent loans for undergraduate students. It could be from an organization like MIFA. It could be from your local bank. So, um, at that point, you'll look into all of your education loan options. But that's how one family will do it.

You'll all do it a [00:35:00] little bit differently. And again, back to these important kitchen table conversations, you know, really figure out what you're going to owe as a family. Is that affordable? If not, you might need to make some other option decisions. Uh, would starting at a community college save significant money?

And the answer is categorically yes. Um, in Massachusetts, especially through the mass transfer program, um, students can save significant. Money by starting at a community college. Um, as parents, you want to think about how many other children you have, um, that you want to also help with college as a student.

You want to think about your career and your future. You probably don't know exactly what you want to do, but if you have any idea, that can help you think about a potential starting salary. If you'll be able to pay back loans. If you feel like you could take on a little more, loans because you're going to go into an engineering program and all the data at this certain [00:36:00] college suggests you'll have a high starting salary?

Or are you going to have to go to graduate school and get a master's degree with the field counseling or something that you're taking and does that mean you want to minimize that? So these are all the things you really want to think about. Um, in Massachusetts, just know Massachusetts state aid, um, has a website, the office of student financial assistance.

You can log in, create an account there to see about your mass state aid. And if you do receive communication that you didn't receive Massachusetts state aid, that doesn't mean you won't receive other aid. It just means you won't qualify for Massachusetts state aid. I just mentioned mass transfer. Check that out so you can see all of the options to save money by starting at a two year institution.

And another one of those programs that could help you save money is tuition break through the New England Board [00:37:00] of Higher Education. And that allows students to sometimes attend public institutions in neighboring states. But still pay Massachusetts costs in state tuition costs for certain programs, so that's definitely worth checking out as well.

Um, free resources. Always MIFA. Okay. You can always, uh, if this is the beginning of your journey, please stay in touch with MIFA, call us, attend our webinars, read our blog, watch our podcast, um, all kinds of free resources for you. Um, there's also an organization in Massachusetts called FAFSA day. You can.

Get there at FAFSA day dot org. They hold lots of events to help students get one on one help completing the FAFSA. So that's terrific. Uh, Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Centers are another place that families, especially low income families, can go in schedule appointments, sit down and get help with the FAFSA.

Um, and [00:38:00] MIFA pathway is MIFA's college and career planning tool that's free to all students in grades six through twelve. You can create an account, you can take some tests about skills and interests and goals and, um, really keep a personalized profile to keep you on track with a lot of things. Build a resume, research careers, research programs, Colleges, scholarships, all of that.

And here is a calendar, um, to stay on track for junior and senior year. So, uh, spring of summer of junior year, keep this fun, research colleges, go on visits, uh, maybe. Attend a college fair. Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation. Take the SAT, ACT, start writing your college essay so you have plenty of time to perfect that over the summer.

And then fall of senior year, you might want to retake the SAT, ACT, secure those [00:39:00] letters of recommendation. Definitely attend any webinars that MIFA has about CSS Profile, about FAFSA. Complete your admissions applications. Submit them early. If you're applying early and then definitely get your FSA ID and get prepared to file the FAFSA and the CSS profile form if required.

In the winter, you'll continue to submit admissions applications, financial aid application, apply for any private scholarships, and send in any mid year grade reports. And then in the spring of senior year, that's when you'll begin to receive those admissions and financial aid letters and can start to really make a plan.

MIFA has a great program in the spring called Understanding Financial Aid Offers and Paying the College Bill, so you can attend that and Then attend any open house programs at the colleges, and usually you'll be making a decision by May 1st. Again, if there's anyone listening to [00:40:00] this who's currently in the spring of 2024 trying to do any of this, just know the whole process is delayed this year because of the delayed simplified FAFSA.

Um, so, all kinds of delays this year, and hopefully we'll be back on course in the fall. So here are some things you can do ahead of time, get that FSA ID, start researching the deadlines of all of the colleges that you're interested in, look at other webinars, and. You are, you will be signed up for MIFA's emails, which I have to say will keep you on track twice a month.

Here's what you need to be doing. So that's good. Um, social media, follow us on social media. If you use Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, however you get your information, we [00:41:00] put in from a lot of information about scholarships out there. So definitely connect with us that way. Watch some videos on YouTube and.

We have a great podcast with lots of good guests talking about all kinds of higher education topics. So please join us on the MIFA podcast wherever you get your podcasts and thank you very much.

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