College in your future? Already there? Better complete a FAFSA

February 4, 2011

Whatever their financial situation, current and prospective college students and their families should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Indiana State University officials said.

Trained staff at Indiana State can help anyone - ISU students or not - complete the FAFSA and provide additional help in searching for scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Unlike some websites and private companies that charge for their services, Indiana State, like other accredited colleges and universities, provides that assistance at no cost, said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.

"No student should be deprived of a college education because of cost," Beacon said. "Through a combination of grants, loans and student employment, a college degree is within reach of anyone who is adequately motivated to succeed."

At ISU, three out of four students receive some form of financial assistance. To ensure full consideration, all students are encouraged to file the FAFSA, as some loans are available to families without need, said Kim Donat, director of student financial aid.

Students in Indiana who want to be considered for state grants must complete the FAFSA by March 10 if they plan to begin their enrollments next fall.

"Even if a family has not filed their income taxes yet, it is important to fill the FAFSA early, as adjustments can be made later." Donat said.

Indiana State and other institutions also require completion of the FAFSA in awarding scholarships.

"ISU alone awards more than $5 million each year in merit scholarships to new students," Beacon said.

Income is just one factor in determining aid, Donat explained. Financial assistance for students at Indiana State and all other public colleges and universities uses a uniform method of calculating need that takes several other factors into account. Those factors include family size, the number of family members in college, the amount of savings, investments and even parents' ages.

To help families plan for college, the U.S. Department of Education provides an online financial aid estimator at http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov. Families can securely enter information about their finances and see a summary of the estimated amount of federal assistance for which they could qualify.

The free estimator is intended only to help a family gauge their eligibility for federal assistance. According to Donat, the estimate is only as accurate as the information a family submits and awards can change as a family's financial situation changes. Actual awards of aid are provided to students by the financial aid office at the college or university in which they enroll.

"All students will have some eligibility for financial aid in the form of grants, work study or loans," Donat said.

In addition to grants, loans and work study, freshmen can borrow up to $5,500 to finance their first year of education via a federal Stafford Loan, with interest rates of between 5.4 percent and 6.8 percent. Other loans are available at interest rates of between 6 percent and 11 percent.

Indiana State officials counsel students and families to borrow only the amount they really need to pay for college and to consider all options to make college affordable, including part-time jobs. Many ISU students take advantage of a variety of student worker positions available on campus.

For assistance in understanding the financial aid system and help in completing the FAFSA, students and families may contact the Office of Student Financial aid at 812-237-2215. Information is also available at http://www.indstate.edu/finaid.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Interview-Day-Presidents/013109interviewday-263-of-620/466421050_xKTYR-L.jpg - Kim Donat, director of student financial aid at Indiana State University, addresses prospective students about scholarships and other forms of financial aid. ISU staff members are available to provide free help to students and families in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and other financial aid matters. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, Indiana State University, 812-237-3560 or john.beacon@indstate; Kim Donat, director of financial aid, Indiana State University, 812-237-2215 or kim.donat@indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

 

 

 

Story Highlights

Whatever their financial situation, current and prospective college students and their families should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). One in four ISU students receives some form of financial aid.

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