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.

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.

Ohio’s 529 Savings Program
UGMA & UTMA Custodial Accounts
CoverDell Education Savings Account
Savings Bonds
Consider Costs When Choosing Schools
Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

Applying for Financial Aid

Federal Student Aid Identifications (FSA IDs)
Begin the Financial Aid process by creating separate FSA IDs for students and parents at Each FSA ID needs its OWN email and cell phone number. It’s not possible to use the same email or cell phone number for more than one FSA ID. Don’t try – you will just create a mess for yourself. Keep all logins and passwords secure – you will need them for years to come.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Use student and parent 2018 income information after October 1, 2019, to complete a 2020-21 FAFSA at it for FREE before all of the applicable schools’ FAFSA priority filing deadlines (found on their websites).

College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile)
A few schools may require completion of a CSS Profile for institutional aid. Complete it at There is a fee to file the CSS Profile, so only submit it to the schools that require it.

Student Aid Report (SAR)
Three to ten business days after filing the FAFSA, your student will receive an email link to the SAR. It does not contain your student’s financial aid package but shows the information you supplied on the FAFSA. Review it for accuracy and make any necessary corrections online. If your student does not receive a SAR within two weeks of filing, check the status at

Financial Aid Award Letter
Your student will receive a financial aid award letter from each of the colleges listed on the FAFSA to which he/she has been accepted. Each financial aid award letter will indicate the types and amounts of financial aid your student is eligible to receive at each institution. Amounts may vary. Follow all the instructions provided. Be sure to respond by the deadline

Verification is a double-check process used to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Not all FAFSAs are selected for verification. If your student is selected for this process, each college Financial Aid Office will require a verification worksheet (often found on their website) with signed copies of parent and student taxes or a federal tax return transcript. If the IRS Data Retrieval tool was used to report taxes on to the FAFSA, you may not be required to verify that information. Some schools may require that verification is complete before the student is given a financial aid award letter. Follow all of the instructions given to ensure that financial aid can be dispersed. BE SURE to read all correspondence from the school thoroughly.

Entrance Counseling/Master Promissory Note (MPN)
If your student accepts federal student loans as part of their financial aid package, entrance counseling and a master promissory note (loan agreement) must be completed online at in the student borrower tab. Entrance counseling provides insight into how borrowing will affect your student’s future finances. Be sure the student completes this task in a thoughtful manner.

What is Financial Aid?

Gift Aid

Federal Pell Grant
The Pell Grant is the federal grant program. It is based on financial need. The award amount varies and is indicated by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
FSEOG is a need-based grant awarded by the college. Funds are limited and if a student qualifies, the awards will vary from school to school.

Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG)
OCOG is Ohio’s state need-based grant based on the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC)  type of college. Eligible students must attend a four-year public, private or proprietary institution and have an EFC of 2190 or less. Ohio students attending certain Pennsylvania institutions may be eligible; however, students attending a community college or branch campus are not eligible.

Institutional Grants/Scholarships
Institutional aid is awarded by individual colleges. Requirements and application processes vary greatly. Check college websites for additional information and procedures required.

Outside Scholarships
Outside scholarship applications become available in the winter of a student’s Senior Year. Look for applications through the high school Guidance Office, college Financial Aid Office, local organizations and on the LEAF website.

Self Help Aid

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
This need-based, low-interest loan is in the student’s name only. Interest is paid by the government while the student is enrolled in college. Repayments begin six months after a student leaves college or drops below half-time status.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
The unsubsidized loan is also in the student’s name only.  It is not need-based, and interest will accrue while a student is enrolled in college.  Repayment will begin six months after a student leaves college or drops below half-time status.

A student may be awarded funds that can be earned through a federal or institutional work-study program. If a school awards work-study funds to a student, the money is earned as work hours are completed. Work-Study does not guarantee employment. A student must apply for a work-study job once on campus and work the hours before paychecks are received.

Additional Loan Programs to Consider

Federal Direct PLUS Loan
This is a federal education loan borrowed by a parent on behalf of the dependent student. It can be deferred up to six months after the student leaves college if requested. A federal credit check will be required.

Private Student Loan
Students can utilize private student loans to cover their post-secondary costs. Even though private 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 products and applying for a private 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 a private loan. A comprehensive credit check for the student and a co-signer will be required. Colleges may have a preferred lender or historical lender list to which you can refer.

Private Parent Loan
Some lenders have begun to offer non-federal education loans that can be borrowed by the parent on behalf of the student. A comprehensive credit check will be required by the lender.

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.


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