Brian Fisher | December 19, 2016
[caption id="attachment_12614" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Understanding Private School Financial Aid[/caption]As we're just about three weeks out from the predominate January 10, or thereabout, financial aid application deadlines, this is a great to time to take stock of where you stand in the financial aid application process and look at what you need to get done in these last few weeks.
I'm going to assume that you've already made the decision to apply for financial aid. If you're still undecided on whether, or not, to apply, or, you don't know if you'll qualify, I urge you to go ahead and apply.
Applying for financial aid is quite a process. The only way to know if you qualify for financial aid is to apply. Everything else is guesswork.
This article includes highlights from our free ebook Understanding Private School Financial Aid: what it is & how to apply. We certainly urge you to download the ebook to help you make sure you've got the details covered.
Don't miss Mark Mitchell's, Vice President, School and Student Services (SSS By NAIS) annual contribution, Five Key Questions About the 2016-2017 Private School Financial Aid Process.
Where should you, ideally, be in your financial aid application by mid-December?
You should be at peace, understanding that financial aid is the most competitive point of the admission/financial aid process.
You should know exactly to which schools you're submitting admission, and financial aid, applications. Each school should be a good fit for your student.
You should know the full cost of attendance at each school to which you're making an application. Full cost of attendance includes tuition, room & board, travel (to, and from, school), books, uniforms, and all the items for which each school bills parents; these can include weekend trips, athletic fees, etc.
If your family needs a substantial aid award to make attendance possible, you should be applying to schools that place extra value on your student's talents/abilities or to a school(s) where your student fits in the stronger end of the applicant pool.
If you are separated/divorced, are you working with your former spouse toward the common good for your child? Are you aware of, and fulfilling, any specific requirements of separated/divorced parents?
Have you spoken with/shared/been forthright with your child about possible outcomes of the financial aid process?
Do you have, and, does your student know, the back-up plan if you don't receive a financial aid package that makes attendance possible?
You should have developed and open dialog with admission and financial aid officers at each school. Sometimes, these officers are one in the same.
Have you asked each school a question like "does a family like ours fit into your financial pool" or "is a family like ours likely to receive a financial aid award at your school?" Did you receive and affirmative, encouraging answer?
You should have established and account with each school's financial aid processor.
You should have a list of all financial documents required as part of your financial aid application and begun submitting them.
Check again during the December break about any documentation that the school, or financial aid ,processor might require. What (if any) additional information, or forms, are required of small business, family business, or farm owners?
This is a great time be preemptive, get a good handle on the process, and make sure your ducks are in a row. As with any deadline, time will do nothing but accelerate, and become more precious, between now and every school's financial aid application deadline.
Don't leave document or application submission until the last minute. Try to submit everything early so that you have have time to check, follow-up, and confirm.