Quick Guide to Financial Aid
The Central High counselors strongly encourage all students to complete the FAFSA regardless of income. The process is the only way to ensure receipt of the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship and the Tennessee Promise Scholarship.
- Gather tax forms for student and parent filed two years prior to college entrance date. For example, students entering college fall 2020 will need 2018 tax forms.
- Create a FAFSA ID for both the student and the parent: https://fsaid.ed.gov
- Begin the process by signing in at studentaid.gov
- Follow the pages answering the questions.
- It is incredibly important that every student makes a Tennessee school his/her first choice.
- Any student unable to secure parent information should see a counselor for assistance.
- Once you submit, please make sure you receive a confirmation email.
A few weeks after filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The prospective college(s) will receive your FAFSA information as well. Each school you applied to will send you a Financial Aid Award Letter, breaking down the college costs and summarizing your eligibility for each type of financial aid. The aid offered in the letter will be based on your demonstrated financial need, which is equal to the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus your EFC.
To understand the financial aid process better, here are the key terms you need to know:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The FAFSA is a form used to apply for student financial aid from the federal and state government, as well as most colleges and universities. The government uses the information from your FAFSA to determine your expected family contribution (EFC). You can file the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The application for 2020-2021 opens October 1st, 2019.
FSA ID: Students, parents, and borrowers are required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing your federal student aid documents. FSA ID's can be created by clicking here.
Student Aid Report (SAR): The SAR is the official notification sent to you about a week after filing the FAFSA online. This document includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The SAR also provides information about the colleges you are considering, such as the graduation rates.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is a measure of your family's financial strength. It is based on the information you submitted on the FAFSA, including income, assets, family size and the number of children in college. Your EFC represents the amount of money the federal government believes your family can contribute toward one academic year of college. It is a harsh assessment of ability to pay, since it does not consider many types of consumer debt, such as credit card debt, student loan debt and auto loans. The actual amount your family ends up paying could be higher or lower than the EFC figure, depending on the sources of aid available to you.
There are two main formulas for calculating an EFC, the federal methodology (FM) and the institutional methodology (IM). The two formulas differ in the types of assets that are included (e.g., family home, assets of siblings), the assumption of a minimum student contribution, the treatment of paper losses, regional differences in cost of living, allowances for educational savings and emergency funds, the treatment of children of divorced parents and adjustments for more than one child in college at the same time. The FM EFC is used for determining eligibility for federal and state aid and financial aid at most colleges. About 250 colleges use the IM EFC for awarding their own financial aid funds.
Financial Aid Package: The financial aid package is a combination of multiple types and sources of financial aid available to you to help pay for college costs. It may include money from the federal government, state government, the college itself and private sources. It can include scholarships, grants, work-study and loans. The financial aid offered by each college may vary and is summarized in financial aid award letters sent by the prospective colleges.
Financial Aid Award Letter: The financial aid award letter is the list of all the aid from multiple sources that you are eligible to receive through your prospective college, including terms and conditions. You are not required to accept every type of aid found in the letter. For example, you could turn down loans. Turning down loans, however, will not increase the amount of grants and/or scholarships you may receive.
Cost of Attendance (COA): The cost of attendance includes the total price of tuition, fees, room, board, textbooks, supplies, transportation and personal expenses for one year of college. This is also known at some colleges as the "Student Budget." There may be separate student budgets for students who live on campus, off campus or with their parents. Some colleges will adjust the cost of attendance to include the cost of a computer, student health insurance and dependent care.
Net Price: The net price or out-of-pocket cost is the bottom line cost of college. It is the difference between the cost of attendance and grants. It is the amount of money you must pay from savings, income and loans to cover college costs.
FAFSA Help Videos
The following How to Create an FSA ID video, as well as five How to Complete the FAFSA videos, were recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
- How to Create an FSA ID: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj1Pn-shze8
- How to Complete the FAFSA, Part 1 – Student Demographics: https://youtu.be/ww4m-mncwuM
- How to Complete the FAFSA, Part 2 – School Selection & Dependency Status: https://youtu.be/uJRl3f6ScGw
- How to Complete the FAFSA, Part 3 – Parent Demographics: https://youtu.be/Tk5FCfe3LTc
- How to Complete the FAFSA, Part 4 – Parent Financials: https://youtu.be/2FNedAlJ-YA
- How to Complete the FAFSA, Part 5 – Student Financials & Signature Status: https://youtu.be/E7Sx5txr1FY