UC and CSU system officials are stating that financial aid appeals are up in both systems, with some campuses seeing as many as twice as many financial aid appeals as they had the year before.
If your financial situation has changed you can file an appeal at any time throughout your college journey. There is a chance your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) might be lowered. If your financial aid office lowers your EFC in response to your financial aid appeal, you may be able to take out additional federal loans or receive additional scholarships.
Financial aid appeal or request is available to qualifying students at all types of institutions offering federal financial aid. Federal law allows your financial aid office to make changes to your financial aid package under certain circumstances. Each school has its own process and requirements.
COVID-19 has impacted our families and communities tremendously. This might be a good time to consider if you qualify to submit a financial aid appeal. There is a free resource that will help you write a financial aid appeal letter – for free.
SwiftStudent is the only FREE, digital resource that provides financial aid appeal letter templates for students. Through SwiftStudent, students can learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements for making an appeal, and customize a financial aid appeal to start the conversation with your college financial aid office.
Get your appeal started today!
One of the exciting yet scary things about starting college is that you begin your adulting phase! Having an accurate and realistic budget can help you pay off your necessities while ensuring you have wiggle room to treat yourself! While budgeting can sometimes be daunting, it is essential as we are now responsible for managing our own money.
Here we will break down how to set a budget that works for you into five phases:
Phase one: Find out what your monthly income is
Your monthly income can come from a regular paycheck, allowance, and side gigs. If you receive a steady paycheck, make sure you are calculating your after-tax income rather than your gross income (before taxes). If you are self-employed or have side gigs, subtract anything that reduces that income, such as business expenses and take in consideration irregular income.
Phase two: Tracking and categorizing expenses
Once you know your monthly income, it is time to figure out your expenses. You can look at your credit card and bank statements to see how you’re spending your money. While doing this, categorize your expenses to determine which are fixed (e.g., rent) and which vary (e.g., groceries, shopping)
Phase three: Setting realistic goals
Before creating a budgeting plan, you need to list short-term and long-term financial goals. Short-term goals should take one to three years to achieve, while long-term goals may take decades. We understand that a decade sounds like a long time, but Diamonds by Rihanna was released a decade ago…
Now that we got that out of the way, short-term goals can be setting up an emergency fund or saving up for a vacation after the school year, while long-term goals could be saving up for retirement. Your financial plans do not need to be official, but knowing them can help motivate you to stick to your budget!
Phase four: Choosing a budgeting plan
There are many budgeting plans, but the most beginner-friendly program is the 50/30/20 rule. The 50/30/20 rule allows you to divide expenses into three categories by percentages. You spend 50% of your after-tax income on your necessities (e.g., rent, minimum payments), no more than 30% on wants (e.g., takeout), and at least 20% on savings (e.g., emergency fund). Check out the 50/30/20 calculator by Nerdwallet to get started. Remember that wants and needs vary by individual, someone’s daily coffee may be a want while another person may see it as a need.
Phase five: Adjust and review your budget
Congrats! You have set a budget. If you go over your budget, it happens! A budget is meant to be flexible because these scenarios do happen. Adjust your budget to ensure your necessities are taken care of first to get back on track. You may need to change your budget, but it should return to normal.
Navigating your financial aid award letter can be confusing because of all the unknown terms and definitions. It is important to understand your total attendance cost so that you determine what you may need to pay out of pocket.
Tuition and Fees are part of the expenses on your financial aid award letter. Tuition refers to the cost of attendance and fees are other expenses like room and board, meal plans, and books!
To learn more about tuition and fees, download this guide Tuition and Fees Explained. Guide provided by DecidED
A financial aid award letter indicates how much financial support a college/university is able to provide a student for the upcoming year.
After a college/university admits a student, you will receive a financial aid award letter that outlines how much will cost and what kind of financial aid you will receive including school, state, and federal aid. Each year you will receive a financial aid package. Your financial aid package each year may or may not change depending on various circumstances.
Check your mail or your student portal to find your award package.
1. Find out your EFC and how much grant aid you were awarded
Your package will include information about your:
Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
This amount is calculated based on the information submitted on your financial aid application. Your EFC is not an actual that you have to pay but it is an estimate of how much your family should reasonably be able to contribute towards your college expenses. EFC takes into account income, assets, number of people in the household, and number of people attending college for the year.
Type of aid that does not have to be repaid. Examples include grants and scholarships.
Type of aid that must be repaid or earned through work. Examples include loans and work study.
2. Find out the net price
Cost of Attendance: full price colleges/universities list in their brochures and on their websites. To find out your net price, look at the cost of attendance subtract grant aid you were awarded in your aid fin aid package. The net price is the amount you or your family will pay out of pocket. If you or your family cannot cover your net price, you can find employment, additional scholarships or get federal loans to offset the net cost.
3. Focus on your net price
Knowing your net price gives you the best estimate of what you pay for a particular school and makes comparing college easier. In addition, you can use your net price each year to make financial plans for the school year.
Adapted from a training provided by Families In Schools