Funding Your Future

The thought of obtaining funding for college can be daunting. There are lots of  pieces parts to creating your plan. But with research and planning, you’ll find that there are many options and avenues to get you on your financial journey. That’s where LEAF comes in to help.

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Start Early

It is recommended that parents/guardians start saving for their child’s post-secondary education as early as possible. Even if the child is still in diapers, parents need to begin saving. There are different savings vehicles that can be used to fund a student’s post-secondary education including Ohio Tuition Trust Authority 529 Plans, Uniform Gift to Minors Act custodial accounts (UGMA), Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) custodial accounts, Coverdell Education Savings Account and savings bonds.

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FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid

To apply for Federal Aid, State Aid and some types of Institutional Aid, you need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students need to report financial and household data on this form.  If the student is single, under the age of 24 and in an undergraduate/ certificate program, parental information will be required.  In some situations information from parent(s)/guardian(s) is not needed.

Each year, FAFSA becomes available on October 1 for the following year and will require information regarding  income from the previous year.  If parents/guardians or the student have a change in their financial situation after the FAFSA has been filed, contact the Financial Aid Office of the institution where the student will be attending.

In order to sign the FAFSA, the student needs a FSA ID.  If parental/guardian information is required, one parent/guardian also will need a FSA ID.

Institutions have the ability to institute a FAFSA filing deadline; however, not all institutions utilize this option. If  students miss the institution’s FAFSA filing deadline, they may not be eligible for the maximum amount of financial aid they would have otherwise received.  Check each institution’s financial aid website to see if it lists a deadline for filing the FAFSA.

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Federal and State Financial Aid

Federal Financial Aid

Federal aid is awarded by the Federal Government and is listed on the student’s financial aid award letter.  In order to receive federal aid, a family must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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State Financial Aid

The Ohio Department of Higher Education administers aid that is available to students through the State of Ohio. To receive state aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Below are the most common forms of state aid available to a student.

Grants and Scholarships (Money that does not have to be repaid):

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Institutional Financial Aid

Institutional aid comes from the institution students will attend or are currently attending. Application procedures, award amounts and deadlines vary. Check information on each institution’s website regarding their awarding procedures and deadlines.

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Tuition Payment Plans

Tuition payment plans allow families to split up yearly college costs over the course of the academic or calendar year. There is typically a small fee to use a monthly payment plan, but most plans are interest free. Colleges allow students to make semester payments without interest or a fee. The college’s Bursar’s Office or Cashier’s Office offers information on these plans.

Alternative Loans

Students can utilize alternative loans to cover their post-secondary costs. Even though alternative loans are student loans, meaning the student is the primary borrower, they are not a part of the Federal Aid Program. Lending institutions manage their own loan product and applying for an alternative loan is done on their website (not on the institution’s or Federal Government’s website). Federal student loans should be utilized before a student applies for an alternative loan.

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National and Local Scholarships

Scholarships are money that does not have to be repaid and can be given for many reasons, including community service, grades, artistic talent, writing an essay and athletic ability just to name a few.

National and local scholarships are typically geared toward high school seniors continuing on to a post-secondary institution after graduation. However, adult students should still look for scholarships to fund their post-secondary endeavors.

National scholarships can be harder for a student to obtain since students from all 50 states can apply. It is recommended that students focus more on local scholarships because they have a better chance of receiving one.  Students applying to a national scholarship should make sure the scholarship is reputable and not a scam.

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Other Financing Options

FASFA and scholarships may not be enough to complete your college financial plan. Alternate means to offset costs can include home equity lines of credit, borrowing from retirement funds, and private loans. Following are some resources to consider.