Tips for Parents

Managing financial aid for the next four years

By Suzanne Shaffer

If you think you’re done with the fun of FAFSA and CSS financial aid forms because your student is now in college, think again! Just as students have to register for classes each semester, they are responsible for reapplying for financial aid each year.

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High School Parent | College Parent

Here are answers to some of the FAQs first-year students and their parents have about the financial aid renewal process.

Is merit aid renewable?

When a student receives a financial aid offer, and is awarded merit aid from the college, it is a good idea to ask if the aid is renewable year after year. Merit aid can be in the form of college-specific scholarships and grants. Some forms of merit aid may require maintaining a certain GPA (grade point average). If the aid is not renewable, it may be necessary to seek additional funding sources in the form of loans and outside scholarships.

What does my student need to do to stay eligible for financial aid?

Federal aid (student loans, federal grants, and work-study) require that the student make satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible. This not only includes good grades but enough credit hours to keep moving toward degree completion. Each school has its own satisfactory academic progress standards for financial aid purposes which you can obtain either by visiting the college website or talking with the Financial Aid Office. Academic probation can jeopardize financial aid.

Are there scholarships for current college students?

Current students should continue the scholarship search and application process throughout college. Just as there are scholarships for incoming freshmen, there are scholarships for students pursuing specific degree plans or majors. Scholarship engines can be used for these searches; find out more here. Finding and applying for scholarships should be an integral part of the college financial aid process each year.

Do we need to refile the FAFSA and CSS each year?

When you and your student complete the FAFSA, you apply for financial aid for a specific year so, yes, the FAFSA must be resubmitted annually. Fortunately, the FAFSA website makes it easy by providing a renewal FAFSA that retains information from the previous year to populate the new form. If your student’s college required the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, that form must be resubmitted as well.

Visit the Financial Aid page on the school website to find out the renewal application deadline and about any other information that might be required.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.

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