College Bound and the FAFSA – What you need to know!

January 10, 2012 by · Comments Off · 11th Grade, 12th Grade, College Corner, Financial Aid, For Parents, Q&A

For College Bound students in Washington, one critical step to receiving the scholarship is FAFSA completion. Here we’ll provide you with information about the FAFSA and why it’s so vital for the College Bound scholar.

Firstly, what is the FAFSA? The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the primary application for student aid and is used for federal and state grants, work study, and other assistance. You should file the FAFSA even if you are unsure about attending college, how much financial aid you might need, or what other scholarships you may receive.

Why is the FAFSA important as a College Bound Student? In order to determine if you are eligible for the scholarship, and then to pay it out, YOU, the student, must complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible. The priority filing deadline for all College Bound scholars is February 1st each year. If you file after this date, there is a chance you may receive less funding. So, don’t delay. Get it done! After filing the FAFSA, The Department of Education will send FAFSA application data to the colleges listed on the FAFSA and to the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC, formerly known as the HECB). WSAC will match the FAFSA application to College Bound applications on file and notify the student via email* if we are successful. Be sure that the email address on the FAFSA is the one you plan to use and check regularly for college-related correspondence. College Bound will contact the student using this email address. If you don’t hear from College Bound within 2 weeks of submitting your FAFSA, call us at 1-888-535-0747.

Q: What happens if I don’t file the FAFSA by Feb. 1 – should I even bother?

A: Yes, file it. You may still receive the State Need Grant portion of your award depending on whether the campus has available funds. The College Bound portion will still be offered to you if you meet the other eligibility criteria.

There are some documents everyone needs to file the 2013 FAFSA. Start collecting them now! Here is a list to get you started: Your Social Security card, driver’s license, 2012 W-2 forms if you had a job, your parent’s W-2 forms or 2012 Federal Income Tax return, bank statements, and alien registration or permanent resident card. There is a guide called the FAFSA on the WEB Worksheet which you can use to help you complete the FAFSA. Get it, along with other advice directly from the US Department of Education HERE.

TIP: You may file the FAFSA before your parents do their taxes – you can update your FAFSA later. This is especially important for you as a College Bound scholar. You can use your PIN code to come back to the FAFSA later and amend your information. Just, don’t miss the February 1st College Bound priority deadline, if possible.

Here are some tips to remember when doing your FAFSA:

-  Read the directions.

-  Make sure your SSN & date of birth are accurate.

-  You and your parents must sign the form.

-  Keep copies of your family’s prior year’s taxes.

-  Include codes for all the colleges you apply to.

-  Remember to file the FAFSA every year.

-  Never pay someone to fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is always FREE.

Don’t wait until you are admitted to college! You can have your FAFSA records sent to more than one school, so don’t wait to see where you are going to attend. It’s more important to have your FAFSA filed on time.

After the FAFSA, then I’m done, right? Well, not exactly. After the FAFSA is done, there may be more to do. Check with the college of your choice and stay in touch – there may be additional financial aid forms and deadlines. The FAFSA is just a part of the financial aid process. It would also be a good time to begin your scholarship search. College expenses can crop up later on and you don’t want to fall short. It’s better to have too much money to pay for college than not enough! A site we recommend is www.theWashBoard.org which is specifically for Washington students and does not spam or sell student information.

Want help filling out your FAFSA? Have you ever heard of College Goal Sunday. They are events statewide just to help you complete this important financial aid document. Ask your counselor for information about events in your area, or check out www.collegegoalsundaywa.org

Have questions about the FAFSA and don’t know where to go? Check out the HELP section at https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm – or if you need to contact someone for assistance, here are some options for you. https://fafsa.ed.gov/contact.htm

And one more thing to remember, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA each year that you plan to attend college. The opening date is always January 1st for the upcoming academic year. It is important to do the FAFSA as soon as you can every year. Some funds are spent on a first-come, first-served basis and you’ll want to do everything you can to secure your financial aid.

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FAFSA & College Bound Video Resources

January 24, 2013 by · Comments Off · 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Financial Aid, For Parents

Looking for a informative or fun videos about FAFSA, College Bound, or both?

Here are a few new resources that we’d love for you to see and share!

Click the title to be taken directly to the video.

Videos by College Mapper and the College Success Foundation

WHY FILE THE FAFSA? 

WHAT YOU NEED TO FILE THE FAFSA

TIPS WHEN FILING THE FAFSA

In Spanish:

¿Qué debe tener antemano para empezar la FAFSA?

¿Por qué debe de completar la FAFSA?

Consejos para llenar la FAFSA

Video by the UW Dream Project

Parody of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” – FAFSA completion video

Videos from the Department of Education, Federal Student Aid

Overview of the Financial Aid Process

How to Fill out the FAFSA

After the FAFSA: What Happens Next


 

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Questions & Answers

December 6, 2012 by · Comments Off · 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, For Parents, Q&A

Have Questions – We’ve got answers. Check out this comprehensive Q&A sheet.

If you still have questions after reading, message us directly at [email protected]

What you need to know about the College Bound Scholarship

November 14, 2012 by · Comments Off · 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade

Eligible students – typically those who were eligible for the free- and reduced-price lunch program, signed up in 7th or 8th grade (the deadline is June 30 at the end of the 8th grade year). Students pledge to:

  • Graduate from high school with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
  • Be good citizens and not be convicted of a felony.
  • File the FAFSA in a timely manner in their senior year of high school.

The basics . . .

  • College Bound is a four-year Scholarship that must be used within five years of high school graduation.
  • Students must enroll in college within one year of high school graduation.
  • Students must be U. S. citizens or eligible non-citizens to receive the Scholarship.
  • There are 67 eligible Washington institutions where the Scholarship may be used.
  • The Scholarship combines with other state aid to cover the cost of tuition (at public college rates) plus a small book allowance.

Resources for Counselors, Teachers, Mentors, Principals, etc . . .

  • PowerPoints are available for use in explaining the finer points of the program to you and your students.
  • A Tool Kit can assist juniors and seniors prepare for college. Took Kits include: To-Do Lists, a Calendar of College Goal Sunday events, FAFSA info, and a financial aid overview–including how to access College Bound.
  • Access to the Student Achievement Council’s secure portal where you can find out which of your students have applied for the College Bound Scholarship.
  • Best Practices for supporting and preparing College Bound Scholarship students.

Helping your 9th and 10th grade students . . .

  • First, know who they are – access their names on the secure portal.
  • Use the Good! Better!! Best!!! Poster to help them select college prep classes.
  • Meet with them to remind them they are College Bound, and that they must graduate w/a 2.0 GPA or higher.

Helping your 11th and 12th grade students . . .

  • Familiarize them with the To Do Lists for college (deadlines for SAT, ACT, application materials, FAFSA filing).
  • View the On the Road to College I, II PowerPoint presentations, which explain their next steps.
  • Review the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and encourage them to attend FAFSA events.

College Bound Facts

  • Statewide more than 115,000 students have applied for College Bound since 2007.
  • There were 16,000 College Bound students in the Class of 2012; of these:
  • More than 50 percent had a 3.0 GPA or higher and 90 percent had a 2.0 GPA or higher.
  • Nearly 9,750 filed the FAFSA.
  • Many are expected to attend a four-year college.

More Resources

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Web: collegebound.wa.gov
  • Blog: collegeboundwa.edublogs.org
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/IamCollegeBound

 

College Bound Scholars on their Way

August 17, 2012 by · Comments Off · 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, For Parents, Student Spotlight

Five high school graduates from Tacoma were featured in the The News Tribune. They don’t think of themselves as the Class of 2012, but rather the Class of 2016 as they are all going to college. One of them credits the College Bound Scholarship for playing a role in her success. But, this is only part of their amazing story. Click HERE to read the entire article.

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Less-educated workers find jobs scarce, even in recovery

August 17, 2012 by · Comments Off · 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, For Parents

Finding another job after losing one in the Great Recession is proving much harder for people with less education, according to a new study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

More than half the employment gains in the economy since the job recovery began in early 2010 have gone to workers with a bachelor’s degree or better, according to the study, titled “The College Advantage:  Weathering the Economic Storm.”

To read the entire post, click HERE to be taken to the Washington Student Achievement Council blog.

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College: A New Beginning

July 23, 2012 by · Comments Off · 12th Grade, Academics, College Corner, For Parents

You may have been a star in high school – the recipient of academic awards, a top athlete or an accomplished musician. Or, high school may not have been your cup of tea – not the place where you thrived or reached your full potential. Regardless, college is going to be different – very different, and that’s good news!

In a sense, you are starting over. You will make new friends, be in a new environment, and have new opportunities. This is called making a transition – you are leaving something that is comfortable and familiar (high school, your town/home, and friends) for something that is different and unfamiliar (new school, different schedule, maybe a new town and/or living arrangements).

To make the transition successful and not too jarring, colleges have orientation for new students. Orientation is a program that will familiarize you with the basics of your new school – what services and resources are available to you as a college student. Knowing that attending orientation is not something that all new students want to do (even though they know they should), colleges do their best to make this a fun and enjoyable experience. In fact, for staff at many colleges making new students feel welcome and comfortable in their new surroundings and introducing them to other new students, is their main job!

Student Services

This is the term used to describe all the campus offices that assist students as they progress through college. These services range from Academic Advising (helping you select the classes you need for your major and to graduate) to Career Services (helping you find an internship) and the Health Center (helping you get healthy if you become ill). College campuses are self-contained and designed to provide you with everything you need to become a successful student:  computers, books, labs, professors, tutors, residence halls, sports facilities, friends, advisors, food, and entertainment!

But you have to accept what is offered; no one will drag you to the Writing Center or force you to meet with your professor during her office hours! What may have seemed odd in high school – talking to your teachers after class or learning how to use your time effectively by taking a Study Skills class, is expected in college. These are signs that you are maturing and becoming responsible for your own future. Attending orientation is a good first step and a great way to begin your college career. And, who knows, you may make a new friend who may be just as unsure and excited as you.

Next time you will hear the Top Ten (or Twenty) Reasons to attend orientation from Orientation Directors! Stay tuned.

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Goal Setting: Part 1 – How to set SMART goals

July 16, 2012 by · Comments Off · 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade

Setting goals is something you probably do every day – “Today I will clean my room, be on time for work, and help out more at home,” but you may not always achieve those goals. It could be because the goal was unrealistic or because you didn’t have a plan. One way to accomplish your goals is to use the SMART technique.

Let’s do this together. Right now, grab a piece of blank paper and write down a goal. My goal for this exercise will be “I want to go to college.” Write down two goals if you want, or three. And they don’t have to be about school. They could be about a job, your relationship, or just life.

We’re going to use the SMART acronym to help us make our goal stronger, focused, and attainable. Here’s what SMART means:

S = SPECIFIC

M = MEASURABLE

A  = ATTAINABLE or ACHIEVABLE

R = RELEVANT

T = TIMELY

 

Look at your goal as we go through this and make changes and edits. Here we go!

SPECIFIC

Be specific about what you want to accomplish. A specific goal should answer the five “Ws” by the time you’ve worked through it. What exactly do you want and why? Who might be involved besides yourself? Is there a specific location and when does this need to be completed. Use action words, be clear, and be specific.

My goal before SMART = I want to go to college.

My goal now     = I want to go to college and graduate with a degree.

MEASURABLE

Think of your goal as a project. If you can’t measure it, how do you know if you succeeded in achieving it? For example, if your goal is to be a good baseball player, you need to consider what ‘good’ means? Do you want to reach a certain number of hits? Increase your RBI? Zero errors all season? Use something that can be measured or counted. And, your goal doesn’t have to be one sentence. Think of it as a plan. Consider the steps you’ll need to take to meet your goal. Then, measure your progress to stay on track. Each little step along the way becomes a victory as you work towards success.

My goal now     = I want to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree.                       

ATTAINABLE or ACHIEVABLE

Make sure your goals are reasonable. Would it be realistic to say, “I want to graduate college next year” if I haven’t even started yet? Get real. Goals that are important to you are worth doing, but don’t pick a goal so grand that you set yourself up for failure. If you haven’t already decided what steps you need to take to reach your goal, do it now.

Accomplishing those steps along the way will help you keep a positive attitude.

My goal now     = I will graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree.

STEPS:   Graduate from High School

Be accepted to college

Apply for scholarships to help pay for college

Stay enrolled. Ask for help if I’m having trouble with classes

RELEVANT

Choose goals that matter to you and you’ll be motivated to reach them.

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then your goal is important and relevant:

Does this seem worthwhile?

Is this the right time?

Does this match my needs?

Am I the right person for this goal?

TIMELY

A goal should have a timeframe. Without a deadline, there’s no urgency to reach your goal. “Someday” is not an acceptable timeframe! Once you’ve established a deadline, you can set intermediate timelines along the way and re-evaluate if you need to. And then – get started! Stay focused and you will reach your goal on-time.

My goal now     = I will graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree by the age of 24.

STEPS:   Graduate from High School : June 2013

Be accepted to college :  April 2013

Complete my FAFSA to apply for financial aid : Jan. 2013

Apply for scholarships to help pay for college : Jan. 2013 – Aug. 2013, Jan. 2014, Jan. 2015, etc.

Stay enrolled. Ask for help if I’m having trouble with classes.

 

By now, your goal should be more than a few words. It should also be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Now, pin it up on the wall, or to the refrigerator and get to work.

In the next article about Goal Setting, we’ll go over the Top 10 ways to achieve EVERY goal you set for yourself!

 

 

 

 

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Follow @FAFSA on Twitter

January 26, 2012 by · Comments Off · Academics

Federal Student Aid is pleased to announce the launch of Federal Student Aid’s new Twitter account @FAFSA. This is for students, mentors, counselors, and those interested in getting the most current FAFSA news.

Click the link to read the entire article at the Federal Student Aid website. http://www.fsa4counselors.ed.gov/clcf/FAFSATwitter.html

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Hold Onto Your Hard Earned Money

January 12, 2012 by · Comments Off · 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Financial Aid, For Parents

It happens every year. Students and families, eager to speed up the financial aid process and maximize award amounts, sign up with companies that promise to help them complete the FAFSA and get thousands of dollars of financial aid. What students and families don’t realize is that these companies charge a fee for this “service” that can be as high as several thousands of dollars – money families could have spent for college.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the primary form that all students and families must complete for financial aid. On the web at www.fafsa.gov, the form is fast and easy to complete and there is help every step of the way. In addition, if you are having difficulties you can call a toll free number 1‑800‑4‑FED‑AID (1‑800‑433‑3243) or 319‑337‑5665, ask your question on the secure chat line, or email the customer service department. These services are free and available Monday – Saturday.

WARNING – NEVER PAY TO FILL OUT THE FAFSA

Always go to www.fafsa.gov to complete your FAFSA.  Remember it’s the FREE Application.  There are companies that will offer to help you for a price and their websites may look similar so remember the web address ends in .gov.

SOURCES AND SITES YOU CAN TRUST

The sites you can always trust will have dot.gov (.gov) or dot.org (.org) in the address. Just always be careful of what pages you rely on. Here are some examples:

www.fafsa.gov

www.actstudent.org/

www.collegeboard.org

www.theWashBoard.org

www.studentaid.ed.gov

www.wsac.wa.gov/PayingForCollege

www.ed.gov

www.gearup.wa.gov

www.wsac.wa.gov

www.knowhow2go.org

COLLEGE GOAL SUNDAY EVENTS

These workshops take place throughout the state and have trained volunteers to explain the financial aid process and assist you in completing your FAFSA. Many high schools and colleges offer similar free workshops throughout the year. Contact the counselor at your student’s high school for more information.  You can do this, but you don’t have to do it alone. And, never pay to complete the FAFSA.

www.collegegoalsundaywa.org/students-parents/

www.collegegoalsundaywa.org/

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