• Post Secondary Educational Costs and Financial Aid

    College Costs

    The cost to attend college includes direct and indirect expenses.  Fixed costs may include tuition, fees, as well as room and board. Indirect costs may include books and supplies, transportation expenses, and personal expenses. Each individual may have expenses that add to or decrease their actual cost of attending college.

    Estimating Your College Costs

    A free online federal financial aid calculator that can aid in college planning, help to reduce time to complete the FAFSA, provide an early estimate of a student’s federal student aid eligibility, provide an estimated Expected Family Contribution, and determine what types of federal grants, loans, and work-study a student may be eligible to receive.

    Each college participating in the federal financial aid program has a “net price calculator” on its website. Receive an estimate of how much it may cost you to attend a specific college; however final cost to attend a specific college may significantly vary from the estimate.  Your award letter that you receive will tell you your net cost to attend that college.

    FAFSA  - Free Application For Federal Student Aid

    Forms and tools to prepare for and apply for the FAFSA include:

    FAFSA on the Web Worksheet    

    APPLY FOR AN FSA ID to sign your FAFSA online  

    FILE THE FAFSA ONLINE  - Use only the free site  www.fafsa.gov

    You must complete and submit the FAFSA to receive any type of federal student aid, specific types of state aid, some institutional aid, and some private scholarships. Virtually every student is eligible for at least one type of student aid. You will need to file the FAFSA each year you will be in college to be considered for aid. Filing the FAFSA is free; avoid the companies that charge you a fee for assistance.

    To complete the FAFSA, you and your parents (if you are a dependent) must provide information regarding your financial assets, liabilities, and income. Documents that you may need for reference include income tax returns, W-2 forms and other income records, current bank statements, and records of benefits from federal and state agencies. Accuracy in providing correct information is important to avoiding delays in receiving aid.

    The fastest and most accurate way to complete the FAFSA is to file the FAFSA online.  The application is automatically edited for errors, is completely secure, easy to navigate, and offers extensive online help.  You and the parent of a dependent student, must apply for an FSA ID,  to sign your FAFSA online. 

    To make filing a FAFSA easier, the US Department of Education offers the IRS Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA. To use the tool, you must first have completed your prior, prior year taxes at the time of FAFSA filing.

    Student Aid Report (SAR)

    After filing the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report from Federal Student Aid (FSA) which contains the information provided on your FAFSA along with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  Your EFC is an index colleges use to calculate the amount of financial aid you may qualify to receive. Colleges that accept you for admission and receive your FAFSA information will send you an award letter outlining the total financial aid package (grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans) for which you are eligible.



    Scholarship money does not have to be repaid.  Many scholarships are awarded each year, some are based on academics, or athletics and talents; others are based on a variety of other criteria. Scholarships can be found at your school, from your community organizations, employers, corporations and businesses, foundations, and individuals.  Thousands of scholarships can be found by doing your own scholarship searches, many can be found at your school.  Scholarship searches include: Fastweb,  www.fastweb.com, College Board, www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org, Scholarships.com, www.scholarships.com, and the US Department of Labor, www.careerinfonet.org.    

    Investigate scholarship opportunities offered by the colleges that interest you.  These can often be found on the college’s financial aid office or website.

    Federal Financial Aid: Grants, Work-study, and Loans

    Grants do not have to be repaid.  They include the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant among others. Eligibility is determined primarily by financial need and requires a FAFSA form for an award.

    Federal Work-Study is money earned while attending school and does not have to be repaid.

    Loan Programs include the Federal Perkins Loan, the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, and Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.  Loans do have to be repaid.

    Visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.  for more specific information on federal student aid programs.


    Information taken from the 2016-2017 Virginia Opportunities, Preparing for College Guide and Workbook