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Visiting the Financial Aid Office (Part II)

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This is Part II of our “Visiting the Financial Aid Office” article. Hopefully, you read Part I already.

Gathering Documents

Whether you are going to the Financial Aid office to get assistance in filling out the FAFSA, filling out student loan paperwork for the first time or because you need a breakdown of what you are eligible for in financial aid, making sure you have all your documents is key to a successful appointment in the FA office.

If you are going to your FA office to get assistance in filling out the financial aid forms make sure you bring everything that you need to complete these docs. If you are filling out your FAFSA you will need:

  • Your social security number
  • Your Driver’s license or State ID number (this information is optional on the FAFSA)
  • Your most current filed Federal Income taxes (also called 1040s) along with your W2s

If you are considered a Dependent student this means that you also need your parent’s information so make sure your parent brings the following information along:

  • Their social security number
  • Their most current filed Federal Income taxes (also called 1040s) and their W2s. If your parents are married but don’t file jointly, you will need both of their info.
  • If they are married, the month and year of their marriage.
  • If they are divorced or legally separated, the month and year of the divorce or separation.

While the last two aren’t really things that you can bring along, it’s important that your parents know that information prior to filling out the FAFSA. Years of experience in the FA office find that those last two are often the items that parents forget most!

If you are getting assistance in applying for a Federal Student Loan you will need the following:

  • Your social security number
  • Your Driver’s license or State ID number (if applicable)
  • 2 references with a different address than yourself – this is used so in case you move during the lifetime of your loan and fail to update the Department of Ed, they can reach out to them for current contact information. If you are a dependent student one can be your parent even if they have the same address.

If you are getting assistance in applying for a private student loan, you will need everything listed above for the Federal Student Loan along with:

  • Current Income information – this also includes contact information for your job
  • Mortgage or Rent information

Finally, if you are going to help get a better understanding of what you are eligible for or you just have questions about particular notifications you have received this one can be a bit trickier on what to bring. It’s important to remember that some notifications about your financial aid do not come straight from your school’s FA office, but rather from the Department of Education or your private lender student loan company. In cases like that, the school does not receive copies of the letters that you are sent from those outside sources. If you don’t bring the letter or email along with you they have no way of knowing what the letter said. While this may seem obvious there have been many times where students stop by just assuming that every piece of mail that they receive the school should be able to see on their end and it’s just not true. They also might not be able to see what letters were sent to you from another department. For example, they may not be able to see a letter sent to you from the student account’s office so make sure you bring that along as well.

The Visit

College Financial Aid Adviser Meeting photoYeah, it’s finally here! The day you get to go to your financial aid appointment! Maybe that’s a little too much excitement for an appointment, but it’s still important. On the day of the appointment make sure you have all the documents that you need. Putting them in a folder or binder of some sort, helps keep them organized. It’s also handy then if you get documents from the FA office because you have something to put them in.

Make sure that you are not late to your appointment. The schedule for a typical FA office is packed back to back with appointments, meetings and deadlines. Even arriving a few minutes late for your appointment means that either your appointment time is going to get cut short or you are going to make the adviser a few minutes late for the next appointment. Since you don’t want to be rushed, it’s important that you get to your appointment on time so that you can make the most of it.

Remember in grade school how your teacher told you there are no stupid questions? Well, this is especially true when you are meeting with the FA office. They know that not everyone is a money guru or a wiz with numbers. That is why they do their job, so they can assist you with understanding how the FA process works. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask or say, “Wait, can you go back over that one more time so I can better understand it?” You’re the one who is receiving this funding so it’s your responsibility to understand how it works; especially if it concerns loans since you are the person responsible for paying it back!

Make sure you get all your questions answered. Here is where your questions that you wrote down come in handy. You will go over a lot of information with your adviser in the FA office and sometimes you can get off track on a different topic. Having those questions to go back to can help make sure you don’t leave without getting them answered.

Finally, remember that you can always see them again! The FA office at your school is not going anywhere so even if you forget to get a question answered or you find that you have more questions later in the week, you can always call them up and schedule another appointment. That’s what they are there for. When you don’t have to worry about how you are paying for school, you have more time to worry about your studies!

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