Central New York families and individuals might be making a choice of a college this spring…but the time is now to start seeking help to pay for it. Governor Cuomo designated January as Financial Aid Awareness Month.
Experts say to start with the Free Application for Financial Aid, known as FAFSA right away. Higher Education Services Corporation Assistant Director Jennifer Dwire says some grants you might qualify for run out.
“Institutional aid is very often limited. So the colleges and univesties don’t just have a huge bucket of money; they have limited funds that they need to very carefully award out to families and that needs to be done in a timely manner.”
If you get awarded federal PELL grants or state TAP grants they’re usually there for you. Nevertheless, the state has already started workshops in communities to help fill out the FAFSA form…some that allow you to finish it right there. (click here for local workshops) Dwire advises people to apply regardless of your situation.
“Families should not make any assumption about their eligibility. It’s very important, especially when you’re attending college for the first time, let the colleges and universities tell you what’s available for you. Thousands of families every year either don’t find the time to do the form or they don’t think they’re going to be eligible for anything and they can miss out on important financial aid.”
New York has a special web site to help figure out college financing called: StartHereGetThere.org. It has advice and even live web chats. It also hooks up to the official site for the FAFSA. Dwire warns there are similar looking, unofficial sites that try and charge you to fill out the free form. But the key message is get started…knowing the aid coming your way could also be a factor in choosing a school.