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Writing a Financial Aid Appeal Letter

If you’ve been denied financial aid from your school or you didn’t get as much as you need, that decision isn’t necessarily final.

A financial aid appeal letter doesn’t guarantee that the college will change its mind, but it can allow you to plead your case and share some information they might not know about.

If you’re hoping the financial aid office will revise their decision, it’s essential to know how to write a compelling appeal letter for financial aid. A few tips, like providing the appropriate documentation, writing a polite, concise letter, and adding a thank you could help in building a persuasive argument. Read on for more details and suggestions for writing a financial aid appeal letter.

When to Write a Financial Aid Appeal Letter

There are a couple of reasons someone might need to learn how to appeal a financial aid award, including not getting the amount they need or getting denied outright.

The Financial Aid Offer Fell Short

A student’s financial aid offer is based on the school’s certified cost of attendance and the student’s expected family contribution, which is calculated based on the information provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

If you are a dependent student your parent’s expected financial contribution will be factored into your federal student aid award. But just because your parents may have the income and assets to help you pay for school on paper, that doesn’t always mean they will be able to.

Related: Independent vs Dependent Student: Which One Are You?

Even if they had originally planned to help out, life’s unexpected twists and turns may have caused something to change since you first submitted your FAFSA form. For example, maybe a parent lost their job or switched to a job with a lower-paying salary, or a medical emergency ate up the cash they had set aside to help you cover the cost of your education.

If you need more aid than the offer provides and you have a good reason to think so, a financial aid appeal letter may be your ticket to helping you get what you need.

Not Meeting Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for federal financial aid, students need to meet a handful of eligibility requirements. The criteria include being enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree program, and maintaining satisfactory academic progress. The full list of eligibility requirements is available on the Federal Student Aid website.

If you don’t meet one of these requirements before the financial aid office makes its decision or you lose eligibility after receiving an offer, you may not get the help you need.

Writing a Financial Aid Appeal Letter

A good financial aid appeal letter can potentially shift your financial aid office’s decision in your favor. Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re writing it.

Being Polite

Not getting the financial aid you feel you need can be a frustrating experience. When it comes time to direct your request to someone specific, looking for a contact in your school’s financial aid office and addressing the letter to them directly might help. If you’ve received some aid, you could thank them for the amount and perhaps explain how much you appreciate them considering your appeal.

It can be difficult to leave emotion out of the equation, but a respectful tone could have a positive influence.

Keeping it Concise

Being clear with your request and how much aid you need, then giving a straightforward explanation of why it’s needed, could help make your letter more compelling. For example, if you need more money, it’s a good idea to be specific on why your need is greater than the amount they initially awarded to you.

If you were denied aid for an issue with eligibility, you might want to explain the reasons why it happened. For example, maybe your grades dipped because you were diagnosed with a severe illness, lost an immediate family member, or became homeless.

Keeping it clear will also help you keep your letter to one page. Writing a manifesto might not be the solution here. The financial aid office will likely be reviewing multiple letters so it may help to keep the letter concise and compelling.

Proofreading The Letter

After writing and thoroughly proofreading the letter yourself, consider having a trusted friend or family member give the letter a quick read. A second set of eyes could eliminate additional errors. It’s not always easy to catch errors on your own, and the easier your letter is to read, the better the impression you’ll likely make.

What to Include In A Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Before you begin writing your letter, verify if your school has an official appeals application or form. In addition, you can check your school’s financial aid office for details on the financial aid appeal process. For example, some schools offer appeal forms online or have walk-in hours to address your appeal questions.

If your school doesn’t offer a form, here are some of the things you should specifically include in your appeals letter:

Addressing a Specific Person

Avoid providing a generic address like “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, you’ll want to identify a specific individual at the financial aid office. If you are unsure who to address, reach out to the financial aid office to ask.

Highlighting Specific Examples

Provide details about your situation and why you are unable to pay for college. Consider writing a bulleted list so you can provide straightforward facts of your family’s financial situation. A bulleted list will also make it easier to connect details with support documentation.

Providing Documentation

If you have any relevant documents that can help support your case, you will likely want to include them in the letter. For example, a death certificate, a doctor’s note, or eviction notice can give the financial aid office the evidence that it needs to get a clearer picture of what’s happening.

Stating a Dollar Amount

If you’re asking for a specific amount, consider including a budget breakdown of how you’d spend that money, including tuition, room and board, supplies, books, and travel costs.

Adding a “Thank You”

End your letter by thanking the person you’re sending it to. You may also want to express your excitement about attending this school.

Alternatives for Paying for College

Learning how to write a strong appeal for financial aid could potentially improve your chances of getting the help you need. But, if you submit your letter and your appeal is still denied, you may still have other options for covering your college costs.

For example, you may be able to qualify for scholarships through your school or a private organization. Check your school’s website for opportunities, as well as websites like Scholarships.com, Fastweb, and College Board.

If your parents are willing to help, they can apply for Parent PLUS Loans through the US Department of Education. These loans are not needs-based, and the maximum amount they can borrow is your school’s cost of attendance minus any financial aid you’ve already received.

Finally, you may also be able to apply for a private student loan. These loans require a credit check, though, so if you’re still relatively new to credit, you may need a parent to co-sign the loan.

As you consider these options, take the time to research their costs and terms to make sure you get the best one for you, keeping in mind that exhausting all federal aid options first before applying for a private student loan is ideal.

If you do decide that a private student loan is the right fit for your educational needs, we’re happy to help. SoFi offers flexible payment options and terms, and don’t worry, there are no hidden fees.

The Takeaway

Writing a financial aid appeal letter could help a student qualify for additional financial aid. Appealing an aid award won’t always result in an increased award, but writing an effective letter could potentially improve a student’s chances of getting more aid. A few suggestions to strengthen your letter include being concise, providing supporting documentation, being specific in how you’ll use the funds, and keeping the letter polite in tone.

If students have exhausted all other options for paying for college, some may consider borrowing a private student loan. Those interested in borrowing a private student loan can consider SoFi. SoFi offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduate students, and parents and there are no hidden fees.

Learn more about financing your college education with a student loan from SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Is There a Statute of Limitations on Debt?

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Debt?

A statute of limitations on debt is a time limit on how long a debt collector is allowed to sue someone in court and force them to pay off any outstanding money owed to them. When a borrower meets the statute of limitations on a debt, lenders or creditors may no longer be able to force them to pay the debt in court. The statute of limitations on debt varies by state and based on debt type.

The statute of limitations on debt is not a catch-all solution for all old money owed. There may still be consequences to failing to pay back time-barred debts, even when the statute of limitations has run out. And some debts, like student loans, are not subject to statutes of limitations. Here are the major differences to understand.

What Is The Statute of Limitations on Debt?

Essentially, a statute of limitation on debt puts a time restriction on how long a debt collector is able to sue a borrower in court, forcing them to repay any outstanding debts. In practice, this means that if a borrower chooses not to pay the debt, the collector does not have a legal remedy to force them to pay.

To be clear, just because a debt is outside the statute of limitations doesn’t mean that the borrower no longer owes the money, but it does mean that the lender may not be able to take you to court for non-payment. The borrower will continue to owe the money borrowed, and their non-payment could be reported to the credit bureaus for as long as allowed under the applicable credit reporting time limit , which is generally seven years.

Some debts, like student loans, are exempt from the statute of limitations on debt. There are no limits on when a debt collector can sue a borrower in court to repay federal student loans, regardless of how much time has passed since there was last account activity.

How Long Until a Debt Expires?

The length of the statute of limitations is determined by state law. State statutes of limitations on debt vary from three years to more than 10 years , depending on the type of debt.

Figuring out exactly which state’s laws your debt falls isn’t always as simple as it may seem. The applicable statute of limitations may be determined by the state you live in, the state you lived in when you first took on the debt, or even the state where the lender or debt collector is located. The lender may even have included a clause mandating that the debt is governed by a specific state’s laws in the contract you signed.

One commonality among every state’s statute of limitations on debt is that the “clock” does not start ticking until the borrower’s last activity on the applicable account. That means that if, for example, you made a payment on a credit card two years ago, then entered into a payment plan with the debt collector last year—but never made any subsequent payments—the statute of limitations clock would start on the date that you entered into the payment plan.

In this example, simply entering into a payment plan counts as “activity” on the account. This can make it confusing to determine if the statute of limitations has expired on your old debts, even if you haven’t made a payment in a long time.

It may be possible to find out what the statute of limitations is by contacting the lender or debt collector and asking for verification of the debt. Remember that agreeing to make a payment, enter a payment plan, or otherwise making any activity on the account—including simply acknowledging the debt—may restart the statute of limitations.

After the debt has exceeded its statute of limitations, the debt is considered time-barred.

Limitations on Debt Collection

Although statutes of limitations on certain old debts may keep collectors from suing you to recover what you owe, debt statute of limitations don’t protect you from creditors continuing to attempt to collect payments on the time-barred debt. Remember, you still owe that money whether or not the debt is time-barred by a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations merely prevents a lender or debt collector from pursuing legal action against you indefinitely.

Debt collectors may continue to contact you about your debt for a time, but under the FFair Debt Collection Practices Act debt collectors cannot sue or threaten to sue you for a time-barred debt.

Some debt collectors, however, still may still try to take you to court on a time-barred debt. If you receive notice of a lawsuit about a debt you believe is time-barred, you may wish to consult with an attorney about your legal rights and resolution strategies.

Disputing Time-Barred Debt with Creditors

If a debt collector is contacting you to attempt to collect on a debt that you know is outside of the applicable statute of limitations and you don’t intend to pay the debt, you can request that the debt collector stop contacting you.

One option is to write a letter stating that the debt is time-barred and you no longer wish to be contacted about the money owed. In the case that you’re unsure, it may be possible to state that you would like to dispute the debt and want verification that the debt is not time-barred. If the debt is sold to another debt collector, it may be necessary to repeat this process with the new collection agency.

Remember, just because a collector can’t force you to pay the debt once the statute of limitations expires, there may still be consequences for non-payment. Creditors may continue to contact you through the mail and by phone.

Additionally, most unpaid debts can be listed on your credit report for seven years, which may negatively affect your credit score. That means that failing to pay a debt may impact your ability to buy a car, rent a house, or take out new credit cards, even if that debt is time-barred by the statute of limitations.

Limitations on Student Loan Debt

Student loans are not subject to debt statutes of limitations. That means that lenders or debt collectors are not time-barred from suing you in court to collect the money you owe, no matter how long ago you stopped paying on the student loan debt.

One solution to managing your student loans is consolidating or refinancing them in order to decrease the loan term or secure a more competitive interest rate.

Borrowers who only hold federal student loans, may be able to consolidate them with the federal government to simplify their payments—and that ensures you keep the protections that come with federal student loans, like forbearance and income-based repayment options. However, refinancing or consolidating student loans with a private lender forfeits the borrower form having protections that federal student loans have.

Borrowers with a combination of both private and federal student loans, may consider student loan refinancing as one worthwhile option to get a new interest rate and/or a new term. Depending on an individual’s financial circumstances, refinancing can potentially result in a lower monthly payment or help borrowers pay less over the life of the loan.

The Takeaway

The statute of limitations on debt creates a limit for how long debt collectors are able to sue borrowers in a court of law. Once a debt has reached the statute of limitations, it is considered time-barred. Any action on the account has the potential to eliminate any progress a borrower has made toward reaching the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations on debt varies based on state laws but is often between three to 10 or more years.

Student loan debt does not have a statute of limitations. Borrowers who are looking for strategies to simplify their repayment may consider refinancing their student loans. Qualifying borrowers can secure a lower interest rate, which could ultimately result in owing less money in interest over the life of the loan.

Learn more about how refinancing your student loans with SoFi could reduce your monthly loan payment or shorten your loan term.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Getting Financial Aid When Your Parents Make Too Much

Many college-bound students with high-earning parents may suspect that they don’t qualify for federal financial aid when they actually might.

Some may focus on need-based aid and not know that non-need-based aid exists.

And some students who face a crevasse between costs and means may not realize that options exist to bridge that gap.

It All Starts With the FAFSA®

The world of college financial aid needn’t be mysterious.

It’s widely recommended that anyone who wants a shot at help with college expenses fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—commonly known as the FAFSA®—because it’s the gateway to not only federal student aid programs but state aid programs and, in many cases, college-based aid.

There’s no income cutoff for federal student aid. Eligibility is based on a number of factors.

Who Determines Aid Amount and Type?

The financial aid office at the college or career school will determine how much financial aid you, the student, are eligible to receive.

1.   The first factor considered is the cost of attendance (COA), or what it costs a typical student to attend a particular college or university for one academic year. Cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, sure, but also books, lodging, food, transportation, loan fees, personal expenses, and eligible study-abroad programs.

2.   Then the school considers your expected family contribution (EFC). The formula includes your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits such as Social Security; your family size; and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

3.   To determine how much need-based aid you can get, the school will subtract your EFC from the COA. Need-based aid includes Pell Grants, Direct Subsidized Loans, and federal work-study.

4.   To determine how much non-need-based aid you qualify for, the school takes the COA and subtracts any financial aid you’ve already been awarded. Federal non-need-based aid consists of Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and TEACH Grants.

One big difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans is when interest accrual starts. Because subsidized loans are need-based, the government covers any interest that accrues until loan repayment starts. With unsubsidized loans, the interest starts to accrue from day one.

Want to estimate your eligibility for federal student aid? The FAFSA4caster does that.

What Are Rules on Dependency, Divorce?

A student’s dependency status makes a big difference, clearly, on the EFC for FAFSA purposes.

Not living with parents or being claimed on their taxes does not an independent make. To be considered independent for federal financial aid, a student must be 24 or older, a veteran, an orphan, or married, or meet a handful of other criteria.

Currently, if a dependent student’s parents do not live together and are divorced or separated, or they never married, just one parent is responsible for completing the FAFSA. That will be the parent with whom the student lived for most of the 12 months before the FAFSA was filed.

But the rules for determining which parent is responsible for filing the FAFSA and the parent’s dependents will change starting with the 2023-2024 FAFSA .

Other Routes to Meeting All Needs

The government isn’t the only path to money for school. Here are several options.

Scholarships

The best thing about scholarships? You don’t need to pay them back. The second best thing is that they’re most often based on merit, not need.

So even if your parents make a “richest” list, you may still be eligible. While many are awarded solely on academics, others are given for athletic talent, specific interests, and lineage.

Patience, effort, and timing come into play to land merit aid for college. There’s a lot of scholarship money out there—billions each year.

An Appeal of Your EFC

If your financial aid offer is less than you can afford, you are within your rights to appeal to the school’s financial aid director.

You might want to be prepared to back up your request with detailed information such as your expected EFC, the amount you’ll need to successfully attend school, or circumstances that affect your family’s actual ability to pay, such as a parent’s job loss.

Parent Loans

A federal Direct PLUS Loan, commonly referred to as a parent PLUS Loan when made to a parent, is a fixed-rate loan offered by the federal government, but it’s based on parents’ creditworthiness rather than income. The rate until July 1, 2022, is 6.28% .

Some private lenders also offer parent loans for college expenses. SoFi Parent Student Loans come with no fees and may have a fixed or variable rate.

Both kinds of loans can be used to cover any gaps left over after scholarships, grants, and other financial aid have been applied, up to the full cost of attendance.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are available for helping to cover the costs of higher education, and they could be a good Plan B in either of these scenarios:

•  Your parents make too much to qualify for federal need-based aid.

•  There’s a gap between aid received and the cost of attendance.

Private student loans don’t have federal benefits like income-driven repayment plans, grace periods, and interest rates set by law, but you can apply for them at any time of the year, unlike federal student loans.

Private student loans can have either a fixed or variable interest rate, and the process is based on creditworthiness rather than need.

The Takeaway

What happens if your parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid? You may have to shift course a little bit, but there are other ways to get help paying for all of the expenses of college.

A SoFi Private Student Loan may be able to bridge any gaps in your higher-education path. SoFi charges no loan origination or late payment fees, and offers flexible repayment plans to fit your budget.

Check your rate, and apply with a cosigner in minutes.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Important FAFSA Deadlines to Know

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®, is a form students can fill out each school year to apply for grants, work-study, or federal student loans from the government for higher education pursuits.

By not filling it out, or missing the FAFSA deadline, students may not receive financial aid that could help them pay for college. Many states and individual schools also use the FAFSA to help determine if a student qualifies for aid. Therefore, it’s helpful to fill out your FAFSA as early as possible and not miss the important application deadlines, as there is a limited amount of aid available.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the application for federal student aid from the US government. The type of federal student aid awarded is determined based on income, usually the income of the student’s parents, if they are considered a dependent student. If a student is considered independent, then they are not required to submit their parent’s financial information. Federal financial aid includes student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs. It’s important when applying to schools to consider all of the costs involved.

Related: Independent vs Dependent Student: Which One Are You?

Students can estimate their financial aid online ahead of time, which can help inform decisions about where to attend school. If you are already in school, remember that the FAFSA must be filled out every year, since income and tax information might have changed.

In general, the eligibility requirements for federal aid state that for most programs, students:

•  Must demonstrate financial need (though there is some non-need based aid, such as unsubsidized student loans) and,

•  Must be a US citizen or an eligible noncitizen, and

•  Be enrolled in an qualifying degree or certificate program at your college or career school

For further detail, take a look at the basic eligibility requirements on the Student Aid website .

The FAFSA form will need information about the student, their family, and their financial situation. This includes things like Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and federal tax information or tax returns for either the student or their parents (depending on whether or not they are a dependent student). Plus, this includes information on bank account balances such as savings, investments, and other financial information.

FAFSA Open Date and Deadline

School year FAFSA open date FAFSA Deadline
2021-22 Oct. 1, 2020 June 30, 2022

File Your FAFSA for Next Year Close to October 1

Generally, it makes sense to submit the FAFSA promptly after the October 1st application release. Some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so submitting it early could potentially help students improve their chance of receiving some federal aid. In addition, since some schools determine funding on a first-come-first-serve basis, filling it out early will help ensure you get the funding you need.

It will also help you get what you need well in advance, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

File Your FAFSA for Last Year by June 30

Students must file the FAFSA no later than June 30th for the previous school year. So, for the academic year 2021-22, you must file by June 30th, 2022. While the federal deadline for submitting the FAFSA is after the end of the school year, it may be possible for some aid to be applied retroactively or be applied to summer courses. While this is the federal government’s deadline, it’s essential to submit the application well before then since students generally need funding to pay for the school year.

Again, individual states and institutions have different deadlines for awarding financial aid to students. Waiting too long may put you in a sticky financial situation if you don’t receive the funding you need to start school.

State and institutional FAFSA deadlines

So, when is FAFSA due? Below you will find the federal, state, and institutional FAFSA deadlines.

Institutional FAFSA Deadlines

Students typically have around 21 months to file the FAFSA, but individual schools may have their own earlier deadlines. So if you are applying to many different colleges, check each school’s FAFSA deadline and apply by the earliest one.

These priority deadlines mean you need to get your FAFSA application in by the school’s date to be considered for the possible aid. While filling out your FAFSA, you can include every school you consider, even if you haven’t been accepted to college yet.

State FAFSA Deadlines

Individual state deadlines can be found from the US Department of Education. Some states have strict cutoffs, while others are just best-practice suggestions—so check carefully.

States may have limited funds to offer as well.

Federal FAFSA Deadline

So, when is FAFSA due?

Again, the FAFSA becomes available almost a full year in advance of the year that aid is awarded. When is the deadline for FAFSA? While the final deadline for FAFSA submission is June 30, the FAFSA becomes available on October 1. That’s earlier than most individual college deadlines for application.

It’s generally recommended that students fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 for next school year’s aid, to avoid missing out on available funds. For instance, for the 2021 to 2020 school year, the FAFSA became available October 1, 2019, though the final deadline to submit is June 30, 2021, at the end of the academic year it applies to.

But because some federal student aid programs have limited funds, the US Department of Education recommends applying as soon as you can. Plus, there are often earlier school and state deadlines to worry about first.

Taking The Next Steps After Submitting the FAFSA

So what happens after you hit “submit” on your FAFSA?

•  First, students receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which summarizes the data and information submitted. This generally arrives anytime from three days to three weeks after the FAFSA is completed.

•  Check if the information is correct (and if not, make corrections online if needed). The SAR will not state how much financial aid students will receive, nor will it detail the income or tax information submitted. Instead, if a school was listed on the FAFSA form and the student has been accepted, or you are currently enrolled in school, the school will calculate your aid and send you an electronic or paper aid offer (sometimes called an award letter) telling you the amount of aid you’re eligible for at that school.

•  Wait for aid acceptance. Timing of the aid offer depends on the school and can be as soon as the winter before the next academic year, or as late as the summer before the fall semester starts. It all depends on when the application was submitted and how the school schedules it out.

Receiving financial aid can be a great relief when it comes to paying for higher education. But keep in mind that federal aid can come in the form of grants, work-study, and student loans. And Direct Loans are the most common federal student loans available for students looking for financial aid.

Students who don’t qualify for enough financial aid via FAFSA and are still looking for ways to finance their education could look into scholarships, grants, or even private student loans.

For example, SoFi makes the process simple—so paying for school is stress-free. Plus, SoFi has flexible repayment options to help you find the loan that fits your budget. Private student loans lack the same borrower protections as federal loans, so this method of financial aid should be considered as an option only after other sources of funding have been evaluated.

The Takeaway

Completing the FAFSA application is the first step in a student’s journey to apply for federal aid (including federal student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study). The FAFSA form is generally released on October 1st of the year before the aid year and closes on July 30th of the school year. For the 2021-2022 school year, the FAFSA application opened on October 1, 2020 and will close on June 30, 2022.

If students need additional sources of financing for student aid, they may consider private student loans to fill in the gaps. SoFi offers competitive rates to qualifying borrowers and there are absolutely no fees.

Learn more about SoFi private student loans today.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Am I Eligible for Work-Study?

Whether you are eligible for the federal work-study program, which provides part-time employment for college students who demonstrate financial need, depends on if you meet base eligibility requirements to receive financial aid. It also depends on if your school participates in the program (not all schools do). Read on for more information about the program that can include on- and off-campus jobs.

What Is Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study allows students with financial need to secure part-time employment to help them to earn extra money to pay for education expenses. Work-study encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of academic study. The program is administered by participating schools, so students can check with their school’s financial aid office to find out if the school participates.

As noted earlier, jobs are available both on- and off-campus. Those working off campus, will most likely work for a private for-profit or nonprofit organization or a government agency. The work must be in the public
interest
.

Who Is Eligible for Work-Study?

Several factors determine a student’s work-study program eligibility, including their family’s income and enrollment status. The school’s financial aid budget will also factor into a student’s overall financial aid award.

Not all schools participate in the federal work-study program. There are about 3,400 schools participating in the program.

How Do Students Apply for Work-Study?

To apply for work-study, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). As a student fills out the FAFSA, they’ll need to indicate that they would like to be considered for work-study. Selecting this option doesn’t automatically mean that the student will receive work-study as part of their financial aid package.

If interested in receiving work-study, students might want to file their FAFSA as early as possible, since aid is often determined on a first-come, first-served basis.

If a student receives work-study, their allocation will be included as a part of the financial aid award. A student’s work-study allotment will depend on a few factors , including when they apply, their level of financial need, and the school’s funding level.

If awarded work-study as part of a financial aid offer, students are not required to accept it. For many students, it makes sense to participate in the work-study program, especially if it means lessening the financial burden of attending school and taking out fewer student loans.

After being awarded work-study, students may still have to apply for and secure their own employment—not every school will assign a job at the same time as they offer the financial aid award.

While an aid award may list a specific amount for work-study, that doesn’t mean the student will receive the entire amount, either. Students may still need to find a job that allows them to work enough hours to earn that much money.

Students who receive a work-study allocation as part of their financial aid award and are able to secure a job that meets the program requirements, will earn at least the federal minimum wage (if not more, depending on the state’s minimum wage). Money will generally be earned in a standard paycheck—and universities must pay students monthly at the very least.

Since tuition bills are usually due at the beginning of the semester, work-study funds typically aren’t applied directly to tuition bills. Students can use their own discretion to decide what to use their work-study funds for—some may want to pay for things like living expenses, books, or transportation costs.

Is Work-Study Income Taxed?

The money earned through the work-study program will still be subject to state and federal income taxes. Students who are concerned that earning money through the work-study program will affect their eligibility for other types of financial aid in future years can cross that stressor off their list.

One perk of the work-study program is that earnings won’t count toward income totals when filling out the FAFSA form. Earnings through the program are backed off the FAFSA, so they shouldn’t jeopardize any future financial aid awards.

When filing the FAFSA every year, clearly indicate continued interest in receiving work-study as part of the financial aid package. Students are not guaranteed work-study each year.

How Do I Find a Work-Study Job?

Some schools may match work-study students with a job or students may have to apply for and secure employment on their own. Many work-study jobs can be found on campus, and a lot of schools have online portals where students can look for and apply to work-study jobs.

Jobs that may qualify for the work-study program include research assistantships, teaching assistant positions, and administrative duties in a campus office. More work-study jobs may be found off campus for nonprofit organizations or other corporations—such as community service jobs or tutoring.

What Can I Do If I Don’t Qualify for Work-Study?

Students who don’t qualify for work-study may want to consider other options to earn some extra money.

One option could be to get a part-time job that isn’t part of the work-study program. College towns usually have plenty of coffee shops and restaurants that are looking for part-time or seasonal employees. Managers or owners may be willing to work with student-employees to build their work schedule around classes.

Those who aren’t interested in formal employment could try something more flexible, like babysitting. The work is usually flexible, and if you’re watching the kids in the evening while the parents enjoy a night on the town, you could have a bit of time to do some homework or assigned reading after you’ve put them to bed.

Another idea? Pick up a side hustle. Find something enjoyable that has a doable time commitment. For example someone studying journalism or writing, could try sending out a few pitches for freelance writing assignments. A graphic designer could take on a few side projects.

A side hustle allows students to pick something that fits with their skills and time. This way, there’s still plenty of time to focus on schoolwork.

Any money earned outside of the work-study program will be reflected as income when filing the FAFSA the following year and could affect eligibility for aid .

Managing Finances After Graduation

To take control of their student debt, some borrowers may consider refinancing their student loans.

After graduating, students will hopefully be in a better financial position than they were in as students borrowing their loans—with a new degree and working in a new career. Depending on the individual’s earning potential and credit history, it may be possible to lower your interest rate when refinancing student loans with a private lender. Know that when you refinance federal loans they lose eligibility for federal repayment programs and protections like deferment and forbearance.

Some private lenders may offer some protections to their borrowers, including SoFi. Those who unexpectedly lose their job through no fault of their own, may qualify for SoFi’s unemployment protection, which allows borrowers to temporarily pause payments.

To see what your loans could look like when you refinance, take a look at our easy-to-use student loan refinance calculator.

The Takeaway

The federal work-study program offers part-time employment to students who qualify. Eligibility for the program is determined by a variety of factors including their family’s income and the student’s enrollment status. When a student applies for aid may also impact whether or not they are awarded work-study, as it is often awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

A work-study job can help cover expenses, but it may not be enough. If they can’t cover all of their education costs with federal student loans, students may want to consider taking out a private student loan.

Interested in using private student loans as part of your funding strategy? See how SoFi can help.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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