Student Aid Checklist

use this quick checklist
to assemble the tasks you need to maximize all of the financial aid you can get to pay for college.

(you can download this checklist in PDF format)


Aid Checklist:

First Thing, Complete Your Off-to-College Tasks

If you are going to college, make sure you complete and submit the required documents.

Deadlines include essay and application submissions, college visits, housing selection, and gathering those things for the move.

Our quick calendar of events can help:
go to our companion site: Off-to-College Planning Guide and Calendar


How Much Is It Going to Cost

Depends on where you are going. Costs include tuition, housing, books, transportation and more:
view expected college costs (aid note 1)

TIP: print our tally sheet to keep tabs on cost and the available aid that you get: print student aid tally sheet


Where is the Money Coming From

$135 Billion dollars were disbursed last year (2008) in financial aid for students. The largest percentage was federal loans.

(we will review each of these aid options under Aid Step 5)

Federal Loans 51% $68.6
Institutional Grants 18% $24.4
Federal Pell Grants 9% $12.7
Private & Employer Grants 7% $9.3
State Grants 5% $6.8
Education Tax Benefits 4% $6.0
Other Federal Programs 4% $5.3
Federal Campus Based 2% $3.1
Total 100% $135 billion


These are just some of the sources of financial aid. Other aid for college includes:

  • scholarships
  • campus aid
  • private student aid and loans
  • EFC


What is EFC

EFC is the Expected Family Contribution for higher education. In other words, financial aid is awarded based on a formula that calculates the total cost of attending school and the expected family contribution to that cost.

we have more information about EFC


Do You Qualify for Financial Aid

Before you start the financial aid process, you must qualify as either a dependant or independent student.

Review qualifications:
go to Financial Aid Note 1


Understand the Financial Aid Process

First comes the FAFSA form, then the SAR, and then the Financial Aid letter from your school.

Link to our Financial Aid Step to view the process:
go to Financial Aid Steps


FAFSA Submission

Almost all financial aid begins with your filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

This form is required for all Federal Student Loans and many college aid programs, including some scholarships. You can file the FAFSA form starting in January for the upcoming Fall academic year.

What you will need to file:

  • tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • bank statements
  • Social Security and VA Benefits, if any

visit Aid Step 2 for FAFSA Information and Links


Understand the Types and Sources of Student Financial Student Aid

Financial aid programs include grants, scholarships, loans, state programs, and other special aid.

We have complete information on types and sources:
start With Our Financial Aid List: Aid Step 5

You can view a summary chart of financial aid options:

financial aid chart: for undergraduates
financial aid chart: for graduates
financial aid chart: for parents
financial aid chart: for continuing students


Check with Your Financial Aid Office

Your school's financial aid office is the control center for student financial aid.

Talk with your college's financial aid office to see how they can help. Be prepared to ask questions such as:

  • What are the filing deadlines?
  • What forms are required?
  • What percentage of the college costs is covered by the financial aid award package?
  • Can the award package be negotiated?

    Connect to your schools web site for the aid office:
    use our college directory


Start Searching for Scholarship Money

Scholarship awards can go fast, so start early — usually in the Fall prior to the start of your college year.

Check your field of study, ethnic background, social and religious affiliations, parent's employment, family club memberships, and local businesses and clubs:

begin your scholarship search

TIP: print our tally sheet to keep tabs on what your find: print student aid tally sheet


Learn About Student Stafford Loans

Student loans are the most widely used form of financial aid. These loans are backed by the Federal Government to guarantee low-interest rate loans.

View complete information:
go to Federal Student Loans


Graduates Can Use the PLUS Loan

Graduates and professional students now qualify under the PLUS loan program to borrow up to the full cost of education. Deferment plans are available.

We have information about the GradPLUS loan:
view GradPLUS Loans


Private Loans and Other Alternative Financing

Most financial aid awards do not cover the full cost of education. Many students are turning to private education loans and other alternative financing to finance their education.

These loans are not subject to Federal Government review and processing. You can get your money in as little as 5 business days from receipt of your completed application.

See what Private Loans are available:
view Private Loans


See How Parents Can Help

Parents of undergraduate students can assist with their child's education by applying for the Federal PLUS loans.

We have information about PLUS loans:
view PLUS Loans


The Banker Home Equity Line of Credit (BLOC)

Parents or students with steady working income can use the BLOC to manage their money and fund education expenses. The program benefits those with positive discretionary income that helps to keep funding costs low.

View product demo: introduction page and slide demo


Finding the Right Lender

When its time to submit your application for Federal and Private Education financing, our lending partners can process your application quickly for Stafford, PLUS, and Private Education Loans.

Apply for Financial Aid: click here


Managing Your Money

Money will be tight during school. You want to control spending and avoid unnecessary debt. View our recommendation on how to manage student funds while attending college.

Money management tips: click here


Building Your Credit

Starting school brings on many new responsibilities like building a strong credit report and managing your credit payments. This will benefit you in the future for:

  • buying a home
  • finding a good career
  • keeping lending costs down
  • perhaps starting a business

We have complete credit and debt management tips including budgeting monthly expenses:
the ABCs of credit


Saving for College

Though it might be too late for the upcoming student, it is not too late for the other children in your family — or even yourself if your plans have yourself returning to school.

There are some interest savings strategies that can benefit you.

For detailed information:
link to our College Savings Center


Consolidating Student Loans

Don't forget that when you graduate from school, you can consolidate your federal loans into one single billing at repayment terms that fit your budget.

For detailed information:
view our Student Consolidation Center

Keep track of your student loans, scholarships and other financial aid for future reference and need:
download our aid tracking worksheet


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How Much Needed for College?
Add Up Your Costs
Enter $$$ You Now Have
Stafford Loans
PLUS Loans
Work Wages
Other Gift Aid
Personal Savings
Total Cost
Total Aid
Extra Funds Needed
more information about extra funds
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