Attention First-Generation College Hopefuls: Tap I’m First! Resources to Aid Your College Search

ImFirst.orgEditor’s Note: Today marks the debut of a new CollegeUp.org blogger: Jessica Spirer, Associate Director of Development at the Center for Student Opportunity. In her inaugural post, Jessica highlights resources that can help aspiring first-generation college students not only find the right-fit college, but also stay on track and complete their degrees. Are you a high school student who will be the first in your family to attend college? Congratulations — you have something to celebrate! You are...Read More
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Give the FAFSA4caster A Spin or Two or Three

How To Estimate Financial Aid Eligibility with FAFSA4casterEditor's Note: This is the first posting in a multi-part series offering tips on how to estimate just how much financial aid you could potentially receive from federal, state, institutional and private sources. In today's installment, Jennifer Satalino explains how to use the FAFSA4caster to gauge your eligibility for federal financial aid programs, including Pell Grants. OK, you’ve hit the send button and submitted your college admission applications. Now, the difficult waiting begins. You’ll...Read More
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Ditch the PIN: Spring 2015

Next spring, the U.S. Department of Education will eliminate the use of the four-digit Federal Student Aid PIN, which is currently required to access federal financial aid systems. The government plans to replace the PIN with a new “FSA ID.”  The FSA ID will allow students and parents will be able to select their own user name and password.  What’s more, students and parents who already have a PIN will be able to link that code to their new FSA ID. The new ID will be used to access: ​FAFSA.gov ...Read More
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Timely, Expert Advice on Where to Find Scholarships

OK, so the government's rules say you have to wait until January 1, 2015, to apply for financial aid for the 2015-16 award year via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a.k.a. the FAFSA. So, that means you have time right now to kick-start your search for scholarships and grants offered by big corporations, local employers, foundations, professional organizations, labor unions, fraternal organizations, and more. The CollegeUp.org home page offers a link to a very helpful blog: The...Read More
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Financial Aid Finality Part 2 – Subsidized Direct Loan Time Limit

As noted in my previous post on financial aid time limits, the federal government offers financial aid to help students afford a college education. But the government’s charity doesn’t last forever. There have long been annual and aggregate limits on how much a student can borrow (see second table below) under the federal student loan programs, but those limits are tied to dollar amounts. Uncle Sam recently instituted a regulatory stopwatch to limit the amount of time undergraduate students have...Read More
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Financial Aid Finality Part I – Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility

Federal financial aid programs are in place to help students pursue and afford their educational goals.  These programs, including Federal Pell Grants and federal loans, are subject to a number of eligibility rules that govern just how much federal funding an individual student can receive. Limits on Pell Grant Eligibility and Awards Two key limits have been in place for quite some time, and you may already know of them:
  • The Pell Grant program can be used up to and until you earn your first bachelor’s degree.
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Follow These Steps to Get a Direct PLUS Loan

Editor's Note:  In a follow-up to her August 19, 2014, blog post detailing the nuts and bolts of getting a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized student loan, Susan Shogren tackles the paperwork requirements for Direct PLUS loans. Student Loan Promissory Notes - The Fine Print Are you planning to borrow a Direct PLUS loan? This federal loan program is open to graduate students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. The application process includes completing several important steps, all of which can easily be handled online....Read More
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Take Some Time to Study Your Student Loan Documents

Student Loan Master Promissory Note - The Fine Print Will you be a student loan borrower this fall? If so, you’ll probably be asked to read and click through a number of online loan documents. If you’re a first-time student loan borrower, you’ll have extra steps to complete. This paperwork is required.... and important. After all, you can’t receive your loan funds until you complete all of the steps your school tells you are necessary.  What is all this paperwork anyway? Loans don’t happen accidentally, or automatically. If you want a federal...Read More
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Advanced Placement Exam Fee Reductions Are Available to Low-Income Students

Your college guidance counselor is encouraging you to take several advanced placement classes before you graduate from high school. You may be willing to brave a college-level course in U.S. history, biology, chemistry, psychology, or even calculus. Reasons to Take Advanced Placement Classess and ExamsYou know that taking college-level coursework can help you earn college credit – all you have to do is score well enough on the advanced placement exams that are typically administered in the spring.  But what if you don’t have the money to pay the...Read More
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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Pell Grants

Established more than 40 years ago, the Federal Pell Grant program is the nation's largest source of need-based grants for undergraduate college students. But if you're just now starting college and applying for financial aid, there's a good chance you're asking one or more of the following 10 questions about how Pell Grants work. Pell Grant Facts1. Just who gets a Federal Pell Grant? Students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. This need is determined by a federal formula that can only be officially...Read More
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