Iowa College Aid Insider: Applying for College & Financial Aid (March 2018)
Spring break is coming, and it’s a great opportunity to do some of your college planning and preparation. Here are big and not-so-big projects to consider:
- Arrange campus visits. Spring break gives you time to visit schools that require longer traveling distances. Even if you stay home, you can take virtual campus tours. Find tips for college visits.
- Schedule a job shadow day. Use one of your days off to spend a few hours with someone who works in a profession that interests you. Find tips for job shadow days.
- Volunteer. You can get hands-on work experience and build your resume by spending some of your break working in your community. Volunteer Iowa can help you find opportunities.
- Start looking for a summer job. Get a jump on it. You can put away money for college and gain practical, real world work experience. Fiind tips for landing a summer job.
- If you’re a high school senior, keep looking for scholarships. College Greenlight and Unigo are two resources to check out.
- Relax! Yes, make sure you leave yourself some down time. Applying to college is a lot of work, and you deserve a break.
When you think of “college costs,” you probably think of tuition. But tuition only pays for your spot in a class. As you budget for college, you should consider these other expenses, too:
- Living necessities: Housing (on-campus or off-campus) and food (a campus meal plan or on your own)
- Study needs: Books and supplies, lab and activity fees, your computer
- Transportation: Gas and/or travel fare to get you to campus (either at the beginning and end of each semester or every day)
- Personal expenses: Dorm gear, phone, entertainment
To get a handle on total college costs, try your school’s website. Start in the Financial Aid Section and look for something called a “calculator” or “estimator.” You’ll enter some information about yourself, your family and your finances, and the site will estimate your total cost of attendance. Some sites will also estimate the amount of aid you might receive. Remember: These are only estimates. Your award letter will show real numbers. You can also find many of these calculators through our directory of Iowa colleges and universities or through the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard.
Federal Student Aid holds #AskFAFSA office hours on Twitter on the last Wednesday of each month from 4 to 5 p.m. CST. You can tweet your questions starting the Monday before using the hashtag #AskFAFSA. Scheduled days and topics include:
- March 28: Come In, We’re Open
- April 25: Loan Repayment
- May 30: Graduation: What Happens Next
- June 27: Know What You Owe
- July 25: Summertime College Prep
- August 29: Back to School
- September 26: Countdown to FAFSA
- October 31: FAFSA Frenzy