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Top Financial Aid Questions to Ask When Choosing a School

by South University
December 31, 2018 Understanding and wisely utilizing your financial aid options is crucial. Make sure you ask these financial aid questions to any college on your list. http://www.southuniversity.edu/whoweare/newsroom/blog/top-financial-aid-questions-to-ask-when-choosing-a-school
A photo of a student shaking hands with a support professional, perhaps a financial aid counselor.

Once you’ve selected your top school and found the right degree program for you, the question of how to pay for college is still top of mind for almost every student. Your school’s financial aid team will be key in helping you apply for financial aid and create a financial plan that fits your needs. Here are some of the critical financial aid questions to ask this college department.

What types financial aid options are offered?

Among the most obvious financial aid questions to ask a college, this is also the most important. Below are common types of financial aid for college students your school should mention.

Federal grants: Grants are a form of a federal financial aid that eligible students do not have to repay as long as they remain in school. “A student may have to pay back all or part of a grant if they withdraw from school before finishing an enrollment period,” explains South University Student Services Manager, Brent Whigham.

Federal student loans: “Federal student loans are borrowed funds that must be paid back to the Department of Education, with interest,” says Whigham. “Students are required to begin making payments 6 months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half time enrollment.”

To apply for federal student loans and grants, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

State aid: State-funded financial aid may be available for some students. Eligibility varies based on the individual state requirements.

Institutional scholarships & grants: Schools may offer institutional grants and college scholarships based on merit or need. Speak with your school to see what’s currently available.

Outside sources: Many non-profit and private organizations offer grants, scholarships, and loans that can help you to pay for college. Even your employer may offer tuition assistance or reimbursement. While many legitimate grants, college scholarships, and lenders exist, do be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true and particularly those that require a fee. “Be cautious of online scams and consult with a financial aid counselor at your school if you are concerned with a certain online offer,” recommends Whigham.

Who will assist me with financial planning and paperwork?

Being unsure of how to pay for college is normal, and you shouldn’t be left to figure it out on your own. Make sure your school offers a dedicated financial aid advisor who can walk you through applying for financial aid, help you understand your financial aid options, and answer questions as they come up. At South University, this person will be your Student Finance Counselor, who will support you through all aspects of the financial process.

What transfer of credit options are available?

Transfer of credit can be a great way to reduce the cost of your education. Your school may accept transfer credit from:

  • Prior college credit
  • Military experience
  • Military training
  • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DSST)
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • American Council on Education (ACE) certifications

At South University, our admissions team will work you with to secure prior transcripts and any related documentation that we can evaluate for potential transfer credit.

What benefits are offered to military members, veterans, and family members?

For military personnel, veterans, and military family members, this is a must-ask financial aid question. Eligible institutions may offer programs such as Tuition Assistance, GI Bill® benefits*, the Yellow Ribbon program, and more.

“South University is proud to accept most military benefits available. Finance counselors can direct students to resources to determine what benefits may be available,” says Whigham. “We are also glad to offer a 10% tuition scholarship for qualifying military personnel, veterans, and active duty military spouses.”

When will I find out about and receive a financial aid award?

If you complete the FAFSA online, you may receive a Student Aid Report with basic details about financial aid eligibility in as little as 3 days. For a paper FAFSA submission, this may take up to 3 weeks. If you entered a school code in your FAFSA, that school will receive your FAFSA information and, depending on their processes, should be able to discuss your college financial aid options with you shortly.

Timelines for dispensing aid vary by school. At South University, once all of your documents are on file and your financial aid plan is approved, your aid typically pays around 4 weeks from the start of class. You can check financial aid status anytime on the My Finances page of your online portal.

Connect with the Financial Aid Team at South University
Our financial aid counselors are here to answer all of your college financial aid questions. To speak with our admissions and financial aid teams, request information online or call us at 1.888.444.3404.

*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/Trademark_Terms_of_Use.asp.

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