May 11, 2023
Congrats, you’re in! You’ve made your choice and are gearing up for a beautiful education in hair and skin. As your first year of higher education comes into focus, you’ll need to put together a solid plan for how to pay for everything. And as you’ve probably discovered, financial aid can be a great help, but it’s also new territory.
Dedicated time with a financial aid counselor can be an enormously helpful learning experience. Here are some ways to prep for your first financial aid meeting to ensure you get the support you need and kick off your first year of higher education right.
There are many online financial aid resources, and most schools offer guides, checklists, and orientation events to give families an overview of how it works. But if you need more specific information about your award, you’ll want to schedule a one-on-one meeting with our financial aid advisor. You can generally set up a time to meet in person or on the phone. You can also take advantage of scheduling an in-person meeting.
(Financial Aid is not available to every program we offer and only to those who qualify)
Before you reach out to your new financial aid office, gather all the relevant documents and information you may need, including your social security number, and create your FSA ID (studentaid.gov). Start a folder to keep track of all communication and these key papers.
Review your financial aid offer closely
Take a close look at the award letter you have been offered. What’s the breakdown of your award? Is there information about how it will be applied? Are there any requirements, such as maintaining a certain GPA? Grab a clean sheet of paper and start to take notes on the kinds of funding (scholarships, grants, and types of loans), amounts, and requirements of your award. Jot down key deadlines and any terms you don’t understand. Try looking up definitions online before your meeting and if some terms are still unclear, follow up with your counselor.
If you or your parents anticipate taking out student loans, consider using some of your time with the counselor to ask about what’s available to your family. You’ll want to get a solid understanding of types of loans, interest rates, terms of the loans, and more. This information, along with some simple calculations, will help you compare loans and give you a realistic perspective on what you will actually pay over the life of any loan.
Know your numbers
Now that you’ve reviewed your award letter, it’s time to figure out how much money you will really need. This is a great time to sit down as a family to create a budget. Begin by breaking down your cost of attendance. This should cover tuition and fees, books and school supplies, housing, transportation, anything you’ll need to maintain your lifestyle (eating out, clothes, going out with friends, etc.), and any future educational goals for which you want to start saving. Some costs are fixed like institutional tuition and fees. Others are more flexible like books, housing, transportation, and more. After you list these costs, calculate what your family needs to fund:
Cost of attendance − Gift aid offered = Net cost (What you will need to cover)
This is your baseline number. You can always go back to your budget to adjust those flexible costs as needed. The goal is to get a sense of your costs for this year.
Create a checklist of questions
You probably have a lot of information at this point. Now it’s time to switch gears. What questions do you have? Write those down and start a list. This will help ensure you stay on track during your financial aid meeting. Some helpful questions to consider include:
- Are there any other sources of financial aid I can apply for on campus?
- When will my financial aid or loan money be distributed to my account? These dates may differ depending on the source of aid (grants, loans, or scholarships).
- Are there any costs I need to pay upfront before my financial aid is distributed?
- When will any refunds be distributed?
As you prepare for your first meeting, remember that our school’s financial aid experts hold a wealth of information and are ready to help – so don’t be afraid to tap into their expertise. Investing time to prepare for your meeting by getting organized, creating an FSA ID, and creating a budget will make your financial aid meeting more valuable. It can also help lay the foundation for a successful financial future long after you graduate.
Our Student Service offers financial services – much more than financial aid. Our team is here to assist you in creating your financial planning. Full support from start through graduation. Provide support to fill out your Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and evaluate access to Title IV programs for post-secondary education and eligibility. Discover and help to apply for available scholarships you may qualify for. Your FASA appointment is a very important step to building a robust financial plan.
Don’t wait! Reach out today to Lisa or Bridget (847) 985-5900 and schedule your FASA appointment. Let’s discover all opportunities you have to make your dream become reality.