A guest post from Casey Roberts
As any student can tell you, paying for school can be the most difficult part of all. But luckily, there are literally millions of students each year who have the same problem. No matter if you are studying dentistry, radiology, or becoming a brain surgeon, there are financial aid options for you. To prove it, we have included just ten tips every health student should know.
1. FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be the first item any student attending any college should take on. A copy can easily be obtained online, at your high school, or at the college you are considering attending.
2. Correct FAFSA – The rules to financial aid are always changing and so are the FAFSA forms. Before you fill yours out, make sure that it is for the current year, as last year's form may not apply.
3. Early is better – Because the FAFSA is such a lengthy form, be sure and get started as early as possible as it will ask for all your information, your income, your parent's income, and much more.
4. Do it online – If you have an internet enabled device at home, use www.fafsa.ed.gov to fill out the FAFSA. It will take all the usual hassles away from filling out paper forms and even has tips as you fill it out.
5. Dependent or not – If you are still living with your parents, chances are you might be a dependent. However, those who don't or who do live with their parents and pay for their own school might be classified as independents. Know which you are and which you should be to ensure the best results.
6. It's all free – If you have questions about filling out the FAFSA or any financial aid form, don't pay someone to help you. The counselors at your high school or future college are paid to know the answers and can help you at no charge.
7. Deadlines – As with most things, there are deadlines for the FAFSA. There is an early, on-time, and late deadline. Getting your FAFSA in by the early one has many advantages including the option to reapply if your first application is wrong and the option of seeing how much financial aid you qualify for, which can help you decide between colleges.
8. No blanks – Even though an item on the FAFSA may not apply to you, it is important not to leave any line blank. If you are positive the item does not apply to you, put in a “0.” If unsure, ask a counselor.
9. No lying – It may be tempting to lie about something like income to get better financial aid results, but FAFSA will use you and your parent's income tax information to confirm your answers, so be sure and do it right.
10. Repeat – Most students plan to attend school for at least two years, and the FAFSA and financial aid process should be repeated for every year of school. This is doubly true for students whose financial circumstances change, as the amount of financial aid can change too.
Bonus! Beyond FAFSA – FAFSA is the standard for financial aid, but many schools have their own forms as well. These are also to be filled out for every school you plan on applying to. The best part is if you fill out and turn everything early enough, you will know how much the school will cost out of pocket.
Casey Roberts is a student and also writes for Radiology Assistant which helps students find the right radiology degree.