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It is that time of year again and I don’t know about you, but Financial Aid makes me nervous. I have taken courses, attended workshops, read books and viewed tutorials, but in no way do I consider myself an expert when it comes to people’s money. I do, however feel a responsibility to provide the families I work with reliable resources to help guide them through the financial aid process. There are a myriad of books, websites, seminars, etc. all claiming to hold the secret to financial aid. Many of these confuse, frustrate and misguide families. The truth is there are trustworthy resources available but how do we know which ones to recommend? Before I endorse any websites I research several factors. First, is the information up to date and close to the source?  Next, is it reliable and secure?  Last, but not least, is it free?  If the answers to these questions are yes, I test drive the site to make sure it easy to follow and user friendly before I feel confident sharing it with others.  Below is a financial aid resource list I feel confident sharing.

Federal Websites:

https://fafsa.gov/        http://studentaid.ed.gov

  • FAFSA application
  • Resources for students, parents, and educators
  • Tutorials, publications, worksheets for counselors
  • FAFSA 4caster online tool to help families determine their EFC

http://financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov/tk/training/nt4cm/resources.jsp

  • Counselor training
    • Webinars, training materials, and resources

State Websites:

http://www.calgrants.org/  Click on Cash for College Tab

  • Free student/parent workshop information
  • Financial Aid Training for Counselors
  • Dream Act Training and Resources

http://www.csac.ca.gov/

  • Resources for students, parents, and educators
  • Publications including the downloadable Fund your Future Workbook

http://gotocollegenevada.org/

  • Resources for students, parents and educators

Other:

http://www.nerdwallet.com/nerdscholar/fafsa/guide

Recipients of The College Knowledge grant, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this site’s  FAFSA Community, is a comprehensive resource that helps students fill out the FAFSA. Geared to students it has a variety of tools including a thorough tutorial and FAQ section.

  • FAFSA Tutorial
  • FAFSA Guide
  • FAFSA FAQ

http://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile

  • CSS Profile financial Aid Application and Student Guide
  • Click on Profile for Professionals for resources and downloads

http://wacac2.wpengine.com/resources/toolkits/

  • Senior Parent Night Presentation including Financial Aid

College Financial Aid Offices

  • Students should contact their prospective colleges for campus specific information

By Shan Schumacher