Monthly Archives: February 2010

More grants and Federal College Work Study Program

The last two grants offered by the Federal Government are the Teach Grant and the SMART Grant. They both work very similarly to the Pell Grant in that they do not have to be repaid, however there are specific qualifications for each grant. For specifics visit here.

Federal College Work Study Program

This program works basically like a part time job with the check coming from the Federal Government. Your eligibility is determined by your financial need and the availability of positions. Every college receives a certain allotment of funds that are budgeted out to deserving students. Typically the way it works, is that faculty and staff around campus will request to have positions filled. Then the work study coordinator will work to fill positions based on eligible students.

The pay is not excellent, only about $7.50-$9.50 per hour, but the best part about it is that you have the opportunity to get placed into a job within your field of study. This will give you some real world experience that will be very beneficial to your career once you begin.

Federal Student Aid Unlocked: FSEOG

Yesterday we looked at two main points, 1st: How to apply for all Federal Student Aid ( and 2nd: The Federal Pell grant

As promised, here is the next installment on Federal Student Aid programs.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This program is also a grant program, meaning if you receive it, you do not have to repay it! This award is intended for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. In most instances Pell Grant recipients take priority over all other students. The awards can range any where from $100-$4000 over the course of one year.

The biggest point to remember with this grant is that there are limited funds available. Unlike the Pell grant, where all eligible students are guaranteed funds, the FSEOG grant is given out by individual schools on a first come first serve basis. I posted recently about the time sensitive nature of many awards and this is chief among those. At my school, we are given an amount each year (say $250,000). We will begin to award that money out to students who qualify for the grant and who have completed their FAFSA application. We simply line the eligible students up based on when their application was completed, and award until the money is gone!

With that being said, many schools have much larger amounts to award than $250,000. But still APPLY EARLY!

Academic Competitiveness Grant

Once again, a grant that does not have to be repaid. This is a grant based solely on your academics coming out of high school and being eligible for the Pell Grant. The rule states that you must have completed a “rigorous” program of study while attending high school. “Rigorous” is left up to the school’s discretion, but it is based on the classes you take and your GPA in those classes. The first year award is up to $750 and the second year, the award jumps up to $1300.


If you have any questions about whether your academic program would meet the “rigorous” standards for the ACG Grant, simple contact your target schools and see what they require.

Tomorrow: More Federal grants!!!

Federal Student Aid Unlocked: Pell Grant

Every year Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides more than $83 billion in financial aid across their various programs. This money assists about 14 million students attending college. With those staggering numbers I can promise you that if you complete the proper steps I outline here on this blog, you can get a piece of that money!

Over the next few days I would like to explore the different types of Federal Student Aid. With 10 different programs that offer assistance to students, it is easy to get lost in a cloud of numbers and unfamiliar terms. Hopefully, after we have gone through this journey of exploring every program in detail, you will have a better understanding of how you fit into the big picture, and most importantly, where you can go for your money!

Before we get into the individual programs, it is important to note HOW one would go about applying for this aid. GOOD NEWS! This is the most simple answer that I can give to you: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). With one application you will be evaluated for all 10 FSA programs. Simply go to and follow the steps to submit your application (Intimidated by the FAFSA?? More to come on that later so stay tuned!).

Now that you know how to apply for all these programs, let’s look a little closer at each one.

First: Federal Pell Grant

This is the most important Federal grant as it is the largest grant. Since it is a grant, it does not have to be repaid. The Pell Grant is available almost exclusively to undergraduate students and is determined by your financial need. Your financial need is used to determine how much of the Pell grant you will receive, if any.

For the 2009-2010 award year (which runs July 1st 2009- June 30th 2010), the maximum amount you can receive in Pell is $5350. Depending on which college you attend this could be enough to pay your entire tuition (eg. the school where I work is only $1746 for a full time student, per semester!) Or if it will not pay your entire tuition, the Pell grant will almost certainly make a significant dent in your college tuition bill.

Also, for part-time students, the Pell grant can be applied to your tuition through a scaling award system. Here is an example: If you receive the maximum Pell award of $5350, that breaks down to $2675 in Fall and $2675 in Spring (if you come full time). If you come part time, the Pell amount would be cut in half or $1338 each semester. Now keep in mind, your tuition should also be less, so Pell should cover roughly the same percentage of your tuition bill whether you take full or part-time classes.

Coming up next: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant (FSEOG)

Take Advantage of Limited Time Funds

There are many benefits to filing your FAFSA as early as possible. When the next academic year’s FAFSA opens up on January 1st, I would highly recommend submitting it. You can do so HERE


Many people make the mistake of waiting until they have completed their tax returns and miss out on valuable, time sensitive financial aid. [To complete the FAFSA without having filed your taxes, simply choose the “will file” option and then submit your tax information later]


Many schools have grant funding that is given out on a first come first serve basis. These grant pools sort through the applicants who qualify for the specific requirements, and then they are seeded in the order of submission. Then it is a simple process of awarding the money until it runs out. SO, in order to make sure that your name is at the top of these lists, file your FAFSA early!!

Stafford Loan Transition to Direct Lending

Back in December I was in Nashville, TN for the Federal Student Aid Conference.

This event was hosted by the Department of Education and was a 5 day event aimed at updating all financial aid workers on changes, plans, and future updates within the federal student aid system.

If you have followed the major news from Washington these past few months, you have probably heard about our President’s proposal to transition all student loan lending under the Stafford and PLUS loan programs to the William D. Ford Direct Lending program. This will mark a significant change in how schools manage student loans. Many schools have already initiated this process and many more are planning on transitioning before the 2010-2011 academic year.

With all change comes some difficulties, but after hearing directly from the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, this transition will ensure student access to Stafford and PLUS loans into the future and allow all students to continue to progress towards your educational, career, and life goals.

This will mean however, that the Federal Family of Education lenders (FFEL) program will cease to exist. For many, this is cause for alarm. The FFEL program has been around for over 20 years and has served in the best interest of students during that time.

What can you do? If you have questions about this pending legislation or how it will affect you, contact your prospective schools. Ask which Stafford loan program they operate under! See what their views are on the issues! If you still have questions, contact your congressman! Contact your senator! Much of this legislation has already passed, but there are many sides to the same issue. Information is king!

The largest forest fire…

starts with the smallest flame!

A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

Faith like a mustard seed can move mighty mountains.

You have probably heard all these sayings before, but I bet you have never applied them to your financial aid! When you implement your one task per day strategy to your financial aid, you inevitably see progress towards your goal. if your goal is to win one scholarship, then completing your application is a huge step towards that one goal. If your goal is completely free tuition, then completing the FAFSA is a huge step towards your goal.

Remember that no task is too big when it is broken into bite size pieces.