College Financial Aid Resources:
The Out-of-Door Academy is thrilled to welcome Monica Baldwin to our educational community. Ms. Baldwin will oversee institutional financial assistance for Out-of-Door, in addition to helping our upper school families with the college financial aid process. Ms. Baldwin is available to answer financial aid questions and assist families with FAFSA or CSS profile-related questions. Moreover, the college counseling office will offer a financial aid workshop for all families, presented by Ms. Baldwin, and we hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity. Please feel free to contact Ms. Baldwin with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does it work?
Colleges and universities have special counselors who deal with financial aid. The office of financial aid calculates your expected family contribution based primarily on tax information from the previous year, as determined by the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and institutional forms (more on that later). The college then prepares a package to meet the difference between your expected family contribution and the actual cost of attending. This package could include loans and grants. Loans need to be paid back, although federal loans tend to have a much lower interest rate than private loans from the bank. Federal loans are based on financial need, while private loans are based on the borrower's credit. Grants are similar to scholarships - the money is applied to your tuition without repayment.
Types of Financial Aid:
Federal Financial Aid
All families who are considering financial aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid - FAFSA - when it becomes available on January 1st. The form is based on the previous year's taxes and W2s, so parents will need to prepare taxes early. You can download the FAFSA worksheet or pick up a copy in the college counseling office. This is NOT the actual application; rather, the worksheet helps gather information before you apply using the FAFSA website.
State Financial Aid
The state of Florida has it's own financial aid application which is used to determine eligibility for the Bright Futures Scholarship. All seniors should complete the Initial Student Florida Financial Aid application when it becomes available in December.
School-Specific Financial Aid
Colleges use the FAFSA as the first step in determining financial need. Many schools also require the CSS Profile (prepared by the College Board) or their own school-specific financial aid application to gather more information. You'll need to pay close attention to each school's requirements, which are usually available on their application for admission or on their school website. In general, schools requiring the CSS Profile will ask for the form in the fall, before the student has been admitted (usually November). School-specific forms often come with acceptance letters to admitted students only. Students should be sure to indicate they are applying for financial aid if they have the opportunity on their college application. This indication will prompt the admissions office to foward necessary forms.
Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid - a big plus! Students should be be proactive in the search for "free money." It pays off down the road. See the Scholarships section of this website for more information.
Ready to apply?
1) Pay attention to individual school requirements when gathering applications. Indicate that you are applying for financial aid if given the opportunity on college applications
2) Complete the CSS Profile in November or as soon as possible, if required by schools. Prepare taxes EARLY.
3) You must fill out the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) to be eligible for the Bright Futures scholarship in Florida. This program funds tuition remission at various levels based on grade and SAT I achievement for both Florida State and Florida Private Colleges and Universities. The application is available on December 1st and should be completed on-line. It is highly recommended that the application be filled out soon after it becomes available on December 1. Transcripts cannot be released for evaluation until a student has submitted the application. Students will miss the early round of evaluation (potentially limiting access to the award) if they do not submit the FFAA by January of senior year. Students who submit the FFAA will receive a letter notifying them of their award status about 2-3 weeks after their information is evaluated, usually in February and again in June.
Use the following link to fill out the FFAA:
The Initial Student Florida Financial Aid Application
4) You must fill out and submit the on-line version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federally funded grants, loans and scholarships. In addition to federal aid, schools use the information provided by the FAFSA to distribute institutional financial aid and scholarships. Submit the FAFSA early, but not before January 1st. It should be received no later than January 15th.
Use the following link to fill out the FAFSA.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Other Important Information
A note on Early Decision and Financial Aid:
Several high-profile colleges have recently dropped their early decision programs under the explanation that the process has an unfair bias against those who will require financial aid. An early decision application is BINDING - you are committing to that school, regardless of your financial aid package. If financial aid is a concern, it is advisable to apply under non-binding early action or regular decision plans so that you can compare financial aid packages before committing to a college.
"Who is my parent" when I fill out the FAFSA:
This information comes directly from the US Department of Education.
- If your parents are living and married to each other, answer the questions about them
- If your parents are living together and are not married but meet the criteria in your state for a common-law marriage, answer the questions about both of them. If your state does not consider them to be married, fill out the parental information as if they are divorced (see below)
- If your parent is widowed or single, answer the questions about that parent. If your widowed parent is remarried as of the day you sign the FAFSA, answer the questions about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent)
- If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived exactly six months with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer the questions on the FAFSA about that parent and their spouse (your stepparent)
- The following people are NOT your parents unless they have legally adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older siblings, uncles and aunts.
EXCEPTION: The FAFSA asks about your parents' education level. For these questions, your parents are considered to be your birth or adoptive parents. Your stepparent is NOT your parent in these questions