The first mistake many students and families make is assuming they can't afford college. Don't be discouraged by tuition costs until you know how much financial aid you could get! Financial aid can significantly reduce the cost of college, but it can be tricky to estimate how much student aid you will get. I've compiled 7 simple steps to help prosepective college students navigate their way through the financial aid process:
Step 1: Apply for Admission
Admission drives everything. If you haven’t completed the admission process, the college doesn’t know you exist, much less that you might need financial aid, and state and federal governments don’t know if you are planning to go to college. Click here to start your Hinds Community College admission application.
Step 2: Apply for Federal Aid
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA website is updated regularly and contains everything you need to know about the application process and the types of aid available. And the online application is WAY easier than the paper version.
Your FAFSA not only makes you eligible for federal financial aid, but also state aid and even scholarships offered by your college. So, you should DEFINITELY apply, even if you think you might not qualify! Get started now by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Step 3: Apply for State Aid
Each year the State Legislature sets aside about $30 million that Mississippi students can use to go to college. Click here to view the AWARDS PROCESS & TIMELINE. Don't wait to apply... SUBMIT NEW 2016-2017 APPLICATION.
Step 4: Apply for Other Scholarships
Hinds Community College offers a variety of scholarships. A great attribute of our college is that, unlike many other colleges and universities, we allow our students to receive more than one scholarship. We want your education to be accessible and affordable. Click here to check out the scholarship opportunities, their requirements and deadlines. Additionally, Hinds is here to help Veterans and their dependents use their benefits to cover college expenses.
Step 5: Determine Your Total Cost of Attendance
You know the cost of tuition. But what is college really going to cost you? Tuition and fees at Hinds are less than half the cost of attending a public four-year university in Mississippi and a fraction of the cost of attending a private college or university! Hinds Community College has a lot of resources and tools to help you determine your cost of attendance. Click here to get started. You can also take advantage of the automatic payment plan to help with costs.
Step 6: Compare Financial Aid Award Packages
It's important to understand what percentage of the total aid package comes from scholarships and grants that do NOT have to be repaid. What percentage comes from loans that DO have to be repaid? Comparing your financial aid offers can be complicated, especially if your awards vary in the type and amount of aid given. Use the Compare Your Aid Awards tool to get a side-by-side comparison of your aid awards.
You can also use this Student Loan Comparison Calculator Private/Alternative Loans to figure out how much a loan really costs you in the long run.
Step 7: Accept Your Financial Aid Award Package
Your award probably consists of a combination of gift aid, loans and a job. Each of these is very different from the others. Understanding the differences is important. Click here for more details.
Once you choose the financial aid package that works for you, you will need to accept the aid package by signing some paperwork. For more details and legal responsibilities of your financial aid package, please click here.