Southfield, Mich. – Putting together a financial aid package for college is often stressful and time-consuming, but the best way to minimize the pain is to get in applications early, according to Mark Martin, director of financial aid at Lawrence Technological University.
College-bound students can find out what’s involved at two informational events at Lawrence Tech Jan. 23 and Feb. 10.
Each year the process starts with submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a document that is also used for state grant and loan programs, work/study programs and many other sources of financial aid.
A student seeking financial aid needs to submit a FAFSA every year and can file any time after Jan. 1 for 2008.
“When you start making plans for the Super Bowl, it’s time to think about FAFSA,” Martin said.
Martin recommends completing and filing your federal income tax return as early as possible because it contains information often needed for various grant and loan applications. That’s the best way to make sure that the information on your financial aid applications matches what has been submitted to the IRS.
“The better the information is on your FAFSA, the better chance you have of getting through the approval process without time-consuming delays,” Martin said.
It is also important to file FAFSA before March 1, because that’s the deadline for applying for state-funded grant programs.
When applying for grants and loans, students should factor in three to five weeks for college financial aid offices to get the information from the federal government that is required for completing the application process.
According to Martin, students already in college should start making plans now for financial aid for the next school year. The first step should be to determine eligibility for scholarships from your college and other sources.
“A lot of people wait too long, sometimes until after their tuition bill is past due,” Martin said. “You can reduce the amount of stress involved if you apply early.”
He recommends conducting a scholarship search every six months. There are links for scholarship searches at www.ltu.edu/financial_aid/grants_scholarships.asp.
College-bound students and their families can learn about the options for paying for college at Financial Aid Night at Lawrence Technological University on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 6:30-8 p.m. in the Science Building auditorium (S100) on Lawrence Tech’s campus in Southfield.
The public informational event is open to anyone interested in attending college anywhere, not just at Lawrence Tech. Because space is limited, students should register in advance by calling 800.CALL.LTU or going online at www.ltu.edu/futurestudents.
Another opportunity comes on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2-4 p.m., when Lawrence Tech will be one of 27 host sites in Michigan for College Goal Sunday, a national program to help students fill out their FAFSAs and learn more about financial aid. Counselors will be available to assist students in M236 in the Buell Management Building on the Southfield campus.
In order to participate in College Goal Sunday, first-time applicants need to request a PIN number by going to www.pin.ed.gov.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers more than 60 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, with education centers in Lansing, Livonia, Clinton Township, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.