Financial Aid Resources

Thanks to all who made it out to our College Financial Aid Night last night! It’s definitely an overwhelming topic, so I hope those of you who came got some of your questions answered and feel a little more at ease about the process.

Here are some reminders/resources to help you navigate financial aid season.

FAFSA – (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

Required by all schools if you are looking for any kind of aid. Opened October 1st. Use 2015 tax info.

CSS Profilehttp://www.css.collegeboard.org

Required by some colleges. Used to give out institutional aid. Opened Oct. 1st. Look at school websites (or there is a list on the CSS Profile website) to see if any of your colleges require this form.

MEFA – Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority – http://www.mefa.org

MEFA provides many financial resources for families. Check out their resources or call them if you have questions!

FAFSA Day – Mark your calendars! FAFSA Days are being held throughout Massachusetts from November through March. Financial Aid Counselors will be on hand to help you fill out your FAFSA and answer questions. It’s free to attend, but you must register. Go to http://www.fafsaday.org to see dates and to register. UMass Lowell is hosting on November 6th, Middlesex Community College hosts one on February 12th.

Scholarships – There are tons of resources out there for scholarships. Fastweb.com is what we usually recommend, but collegeboard.org, scholarships.com, are also good ones. Be aware that some sites charge for their services and promise to find scholarships. Don’t fall for this! Scholarships should always be free. Do a Google search on anything that sounds strange. Check our scholarship Google doc frequently (I added several today): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KH_D1gQtkz3LdGzc0GKxV4giRqQwRaChN3fYINktzcU/edit?usp=sharing

As always, be aware of deadlines! Missing a deadline in the financial aid world can mean missing out on a significant amount of money.

What other information would you find helpful? Let us know how we can help you!

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FAFSA 2016-2017

Seniors and parents, do you have any plans for this Saturday, October 1st?  If you are looking for something to do, you can file the FAFSA!

keep-calm-fafsa

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) has always been known to become available on January 1st.  This has changed, and it is going to make applying for financial aid a lot easier for families.  The October 1st opening date allows families to use prior-prior tax returns.  This means that if the student is enrolling in college for the 2017-2018 school year, the 2015 tax returns can be used.  The early date should make it a lot easier to complete the FAFSA and enter accurate tax information.  For additional information about the FAFSA, click here!

important

With anything that goes along with the college application process, students should be double checking all college financial aid deadlines.  This also includes the CSS Profile if that is required as well.

dont-forget

Lowell Catholic will be hosting it’s annual Financial Aid Information Night on Thursday, October 27th at 6:30 in the auditorium.  A representative for MEFA will be here to explain the financial aid process and answer any questions you may have.  You don’t want to miss this very important night!!!

It’s Your Turn, Juniors!

On Thursday, 2/25, the guidance department held it’s annual Junior College Information Night.  Recognizing that the whole college application process can be overwhelming, we try to simplify it the best we can while at the same time provide thorough, necessary information.

A timeline of what juniors should be doing or thinking about was provided, which included the following:

  • Register to take the SAT and/or ACT exam
  • Schedule a meeting with guidance to discuss college plans and courses for next year
  • College Visits
  • Think about who to ask for recommendation letters
  • Work on a resume

Another important piece that was covered is beginning the college search.  Naviance is a great tool to narrow down your search by location, major, activities, etc.  Students can access this on their Family Connection page.

In addition to this information, we went into detail about the many changes occurring for the junior class.  Of course, the big one would be the new SAT program.  We did a brief overview of the content of the exam, but for more information, you can go here.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is a free new tool rolling out this year for high school students.  This information was presented during the college information night to make families aware of it should they come across it while researching colleges.  The coalition allows students, beginning in grade 9, to create a profile and fill their “lockers.”  The locker is where a student can save essays, art work, projects, awards, etc., that could be helpful to them when it is time to apply to college.  Finally, there is an application piece to it.  Students can apply to member colleges through this application.  The read more about the coalition and it’s values and beliefs, click here.

What’s new with the Common Application this year?  Students can now create an account before August and it will roll over into senior year.  This puts students at an advantage because they are able to ease any anxiety or worry about the application.  Students can look through it to get an understanding of what is involved.  They are also able to see next year’s essay prompts, which will enable them to start thinking of what they want to write about.

Finally, we touched on financial aid a little bit.  Financial aid can always be overwhelming, so we spoke about the new changes coming to the FAFSA.  These changes include an new filing date of October 1st and the ability to use prior-prior year’s taxes.  Click here for more details about these changes and more.

This sums up the information provided during the Junior College Information Night.  As the senior class receives college decisions and think about where to register for the fall, the guidance department is excited to begin the college discussion with the junior class!!!