The whole process of financial aid can be daunting. Sometimes it feels like trying to do your taxes while learning a new language. To make things easier, try to remember the Chinese Proverb, "the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step." The first step in the process is to APPLY FOR A PIN NUMBER. When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you will use the PIN to sign it electronically. If you are a dependent student, (generally anyone under 24 years of age), your parents will need a PIN number as well.
Your PIN number will remain the same throughout your college years. Pick a number you will remember. If you have to write it down, keep it in a safe place. DO NOT SHARE your PIN number with others. It is your PIN number. The College Financial Aid Office will not be able to tell you what it is. There is a process to retrieve it electronically.
Everything you wanted to know about PINs and more is available at www.pin.ed.gov. While we are talking about electronic signatures, let me give you a heads up about emails. I know many of you change email addresses more often than you do cell phone plans, but get one that you will keep and use only for college applications, financial aid and scholarship applications. Make the address something you can easily remember, like JohnDoecollege@yahoo.com or [your name]@hotmail.com. Once you set up the email, check the filters. If you are giving this address to the government or to colleges, you have to let their emails through the filters. Then check your email. When you provide an email address on applications that is how you will receive communication. Not reading your emails could cost you money.
It just takes a few minutes, but getting your PIN and setting up an email for important correspondence (and reading them) will help you be more successful in your quest for financial aid.
Do it today!