Decoding Financial Aid
As you begin the process of applying to college, you will notice that college and university financial offices tend to have a vocabulary all their own. Don’t panic! It is completely normal and to be expected, so don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification if at any point you feel confused.
Acronyms in particular tend to be intimidating. Seeing a string of capital letters popping out at you from the page can make you wonder if you’re actually reading English! Don’t let it shake you! Very often, once you know what words the letters represent, the meaning becomes clear without any further explanation. Think of them as the text abbreviations of the financial aid world. Most young people recognize acronyms like LOL, TBT, TBH, etc., because these are used often in everyday messaging. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with a few basic financial acronyms, the mystery of it all will disappear and you’ll feel much more confident when it comes time to discuss your options with your school’s financial advisor.
Three very common acronyms that are used when discussing the financial side of college life are FAFSA, COA, and EFC. You may have already come across these since they are frequently mentioned during the admission process.
FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid
This is a form that enables you to determine how much financial aid you can receive from the federal government*. The form can be completed entirely online from the comfort of your own home by visiting fafsa.ed.gov or you can check out their app: myStudentAid. You will need to have some documents handy in order to complete this form – go ahead and view the list here so you know what to expect.
(By the way, any NEW student at TBC who completes and submits their FAFSA by November 1, 2018 is eligible for a $500 scholarship! If this applies to you – don’t miss out!)
COA = Cost of Attendance
Your cost of attendance includes direct education expenses (tuition, fees, etc.) at your college of choice plus estimates for indirect expenses associated with your college education. Financial aid offices develop COAs by student classification: campus resident students, commuter students, etc. All students in a certain classification will have the same COA.
Typically, your COA will include:
- Miscellaneous fees (registration fee, graduation fee, etc.)
- Meal plans/food
- Housing costs
- School supplies (computer, printer, materials for projects, etc)
EFC = Expected Family Contribution
The EFC is a measure of how much the student and his or her family can be expected to contribute toward the student’s COA for a given academic year. Each school’s financial aid office uses your EFC to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. Your Federal Student Aid eligibility should be the same at all schools.
If you would like to dig a little deeper into how your EFC is calculated, you can learn more here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated
We hope this helps as you move forward in your college search and application adventure. We wish you all the best! Please do not hesitate to contact us at Trinity Baptist College if you have any questions we can help answer. You can email us at email@example.com or call us at 904-596-2451.
*and under which category your eligibility falls: need-based or non-need-based.
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