When people make the decision to go back to school, they often don’t know where to start. They often don’t even know when to start. Adult students with busy schedules want to start utilizing their resources and getting support before they ever fill out a student aid application or even before they choose to enroll.
Before January: Prepare
Do the Research
Do the research. All of the information and particulars surrounding financial aid can be very overwhelming. Start by making an appointment with your high school guidance counselor or the financial aid office of the institution you plan to attend. This is the easiest way to get a jump start on knowing how much aid you may qualify for. It’s also the most convenient spot to find out important deadlines. Some schools and states terminate applications for financial assistance as early as February or March, whereas, federal applications remain open until the end of June.
Not to mention, the financial aid process is scary and confusing. Having a counselor or office assistant by your side will help you stay motivated, on track and save you some headache. It’s their job to know the ins and outs of the whole process. Their knowledge and experience will help keep you prepared and informed, eliminating some of the unnecessary surprises most students encounter along the way.
Calculate Expected Family Contribution
After doing some research, you’ve learned that your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the most important piece of the financial aid process. This is the figure that determines how much financial aid an individual student is allowed to receive. It is also one of the most annoying numbers in the world.
Based on a student’s dependency status, two different formulas exist for calculating an EFC. Both of which calculate a student’s expected contribution by dividing their family’s total available income by the number of members currently enrolled in college.
In the case of dependent students, this process is taken a step farther. The family’s contribution and a student’s available income are added together to form the final expected contribution.
Two different formulas exist to help the financial aid system maintain consistency. Dependent students are likely to have the support of their parents and so both the student’s and parents’ available income must be reported. However, this does not mean all parents of dependent students are required to offer support. Independent students are automatically viewed as independent of family support, making them only responsible for reporting their income and, if married, their spouse’s.
The idea of going to school is scary enough as it is. Disapproval from family members or the workplace can make or break a potential student’s decision. It’s very unlikely either of these areas of support will disapprove of your decision. However, this fact does not make the possibility of disappointed looks any less frightening. Many adult students try to circumvent the situation all together, hiding in the safety of online classes that are under the radar of their work schedules. It’s not a flawless method, but it does keep their life separated and organized without any unnecessary overlap.
However, there are many benefits to having a supportive boss that these students are missing out on, such as tuition reimbursement. Possibly the best perk of keeping your supervisor in the loop, tuition reimbursement is a very real thing. Many companies and organizations will not only support your schooling, but help pay for it.
The second best incentive is understanding. Tests and exams happen, just like flu. When you’re sick, coughing will always give you away despite the smile on your face. When you show up at work doing readings and studying during your lunch break, if your co-workers don’t already know you’re enrolled, they will.
Start talking to your boss before even filling out any applications. Ask if they know of any good schools or certification programs that specialize in your current field. Investigate their feelings on doing homework and assignments while at the office, on breaks of course. This is also the perfect chance to make sure your school’s online education platform will be accessible during office hours. Many companies use security features that deter or block unauthorized internet portals, such as Blackboard.