Student Aid Timeline

You CAN find aid for college using this simple timeline.

Before College

1. Choose Schools

Look at a few schools and select your favorites.

Once you have a few schools in mind, investigate ways to pay through various grants, scholarships, and loans.

2. Submit a FAFSA

To qualify for student aid in the United States, you must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

You can include on your FAFSA up to six schools you are interested in attending. Find out the aid deadlines from these schools and submit the FAFSA before the earliest one.

3. Award Letters Arrive

The schools you include on your FAFSA will send you their financial aid offer in a package, often referred to as an award letter.

The aid offered in award letters will be different for each school, so review your award letters very carefully.

4. Fill Aid Gaps

If you do not receive enough through grants and scholarships to cover your college funding, consider getting a loan to fill any gaps in aid.

Select the best type of loan for your situation.

5. Understand What Loans Are

If loans are necessary to fund your education, take time to know what you are getting into. Although all loans are different, they are constructed in similar ways.

Understand the building blocks of loans so you know what to expect.

During College

1. Know Your Responsibilities

You probably don't want to think about your loan until you finish school (you've got enough on your mind!). But your school years are a great time to prepare for the day your first loan payment becomes due.

Know your responsibilities now, to make sure you don't end up paying a penny more than you have to.

2. Pay Early

Did you know that you can pay the interest on your loan while you are still in school? You can even make payments on the principal if you have a subsidized federal loan.

Any payments that you make early will reduce the amount that you pay in total over the life of the loan.

After College

1. Enjoy Grace

The purpose of the grace period, if you get one, is to give you time to find employment. During grace, you don't need to make any payments on your student loans.

But just because you don't have to pay doesn't mean you shouldn't pay. Making payments during grace has its benefits, so don't rule it out.

2. Repay Your Loan

When it's time to start paying back your student loan, your loan servicer will let you know when your first payment is due, the amount of your payment, and where to send it.

You can then select a payment method that works best for you. Direct Debit is the most convenient way to make your student loan payments.

3. Can't Pay

If you're struggling to make your monthly payments, don't despair. Simple solutions are available.

4. The Final Payment

Ready to make that final payment and put your student loan behind you?

Congratulations! Be proud of your accomplishment.