Financial Aid FAQs

New questions answered today!

Now that you're knee deep in applying for financial aid to your top schools, we thought we would help you get answers to your top FAFSA questions!

These questions were submitted by students like you through the My College Dollars app on our website. If you don't see your question answered below, feel free to submit it through the Ask the Expert section on the My College Dollars app. 

Does applying or saving a scholorship automatically enter me in the sweepstakes?  
Submitted by: Lyndsey F.
Answered by The College Board on 02/06/12:
Yes, as long as you have selected the ENTER SWEEPSTAKES box, then saving a scholarship will equal a single entry.

Is there a cutoff for financial aid eligibility?  
Submitted by: Abbey E.
Answered by The College Board on 02/06/12:
There is no exact income cut-off for financial aid eligibility. This is because a variety of factors, in combination with family income, are used to determine a student’s eligibility. The number of people in the family, the number of family members in college, the source of the income, the value of family assets, and the cost of the college, are examples of some other variables which are considered. The only way to determine eligibility for financial aid is to submit the aid application, starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should check with the colleges you are considering for their application requirements and submission deadlines.
However, yes, there are deadlines for financial aid eligibility. They vary by application type and school. For the 2012-2013 school year (i.e. Fall 2012 and Spring 2013), you can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using FAFSA on the Web after January 1, 2012. Though you may use your FAFSA to apply for aid from your state or college, the deadline for state or college aid may differ from the federal deadline. In addition to filing out the FAFSA, some private colleges require the CSS/PROFILE application. You should check with the colleges you are considering for deadlines for state and college student aid and the types of aid applications you should complete.

How do I enter your college scholarship contest?  
Submitted by: tiffani d.
Answered by The College Board on 02/06/12:
To Enter: To enter the Sweepstakes (a) visit the My College Dollars Facebook application (the “Application”) at, (b) if you have not previously done so, “connect” to the Application and perform either of the following: (i) add a scholarship to your calendar or (ii) invite a friend/share the Application, (c) upon completion of the foregoing, you will have the opportunity to opt-in to enter via the Sweepstakes tab and complete the entry form fully and accurately with all required information (which may include your full name, full address, city, state, telephone number and age), (d) agree to the Official Rules and (e) submit the entry as instructed. By registering at entry site and entering Sweepstakes, you further agree to abide by and be bound by the Facebook, Inc.’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, which can be found at and; if you do not agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, do not enter the Sweepstakes or otherwise use the entry site. Take a loook at the OFFICIAL RULES posted to the app for more information.

When I completed the FAFSA form I saw something that said "EFC: 6,500"  
Submitted by: Jacob A.
Answered by The College Board on 02/06/12:
The EFC stands for “Estimated Family Contribution.” This is used by the financial aid office at your colleges/universities to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. It can also be used to determine your eligibility for state, institutional, and possibly even private aid.
While the EFC references your family contribution, this does not necessarily represent what you and your parents will be expected to contribute in a year. Your actual contribution will depend on the cost of your college and the amount of aid you receive. This result can vary as you complete your FAFSA for each year you are in college.

What is a student direct loan?  
Submitted by: Kris E.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
College students who are working on a Certificate or on an Associate, Bachelors, and/or Graduate degree can borrow from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). This program makes low interest loans available to students (and parents through the PLUS Loan) and repayment on these student loans begins six months after you finish school or drop to less than half time enrollment. The FDSLP is a loan borrowed directly from the federal government and thus is subject to Department of Education rules. A student must apply for these loans by annually completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These loans may be “Subsidized” (taxpayers pay the interest while the student is in school) or “Unsubsidized” (the student is responsible for interest that accrues while that student is in school). These loans may also be called Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

After we fill out the FAFSA, how long does it take get get the SAR?  
Submitted by: NIJ M.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
If you completed your FAFSA electronically using FAFSA on the Web, you will receive an email within 3-5 days that will contain a link to allow you to access your SAR online. A paper SAR will also be sent to you 7-10 days after your FAFSA has been processed.
If you completed a paper FAFSA, it will take longer for you to receive your SAR.
Your institution will be sent your SAR electronically by the Department within 2-3 days of your FAFSA being processed.

What is the maximum dollar amount to take out on a loan for college?  
Submitted by: Anira J.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
As a student borrowing for an undergraduate degree (Bachelors or Associate degrees) in your freshman year, you can borrow up to $3500 in the Subsidized Stafford Loan based upon your demonstrated need. Additionally, you can borrow up to $2000 in the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan to pay for college costs. You also may be able to borrow up to $4,000 in an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, if you are independent of your parent(s) or if your parent cannot borrow the Parent PLUS Loan. So, the freshman maximum loan could be as high as $9500, no more than $3500 of which would be Subsidized. As you progress through the four years of college and on to graduate school, the borrowing limitations go up. The maximum that a dependent undergraduate student can borrow for college is $31,000 and the maximum that an independent undergraduate student can borrow is $57,500. Please be sensible about student loan borrowing; make sure you borrow no more than you are willing to repay.

If my mother makes too much money, am I still eligible for FAFSA?  
Submitted by: Brianna G.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
You should always complete the FAFSA, regardless of whether you think your mother makes too much money or not. People often assume that since the amount of income earned exceeds Pell Grant eligibility that the student isn’t eligible for any other aid, but that can be far from the truth. Colleges and universities often have other resources that can be offered to help with educational costs and the failure to complete the FAFSA means that the student cannot be considered for these resources.
Never assume that you are not eligible. Apply and let the aid officer inform you as to your eligibility and what options you might have.

What are the best types of loans?  
Submitted by: Kris B.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
The best loans can differ from student to student, but the rule of thumb is to explore and make use of the federal loan programs first. Loans such as the Direct Stafford Loan from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the parent PLUS loan, or the Federal Perkins Loan should always be pursued before private loans.
While a private loan might appear to have a better interest rate and often permits students to borrow more than in the federal programs, the federal loans offer students more protections such as forbearance during times of job loss or extended illness and deferments for graduate school. In addition, the government pays the interest on Stafford loans for students who are eligible for a subsidized Stafford loan. Private loans also have much stricter credit criteria, more often than not requiring an eligible co-signer.
A student should always consult the financial aid office first to determine which loans are best for that student, based on the eligibility criteria for the loan. Regardless of which loan programs are used, the best loan is always the one that is the least expensive overall. Only accept a loan when it is necessary to borrow, not just because it is available and only borrow the amount you need.

what is the best school to apply for, to go to for a good education in fashion and/or study in the medical feild?  
Submitted by: shyann l.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
You should check out the College Board’s College Matchmaker tool. You can search for schools by major and other criteria to find a school that might be a good fit.

Are there going to be scholarships for juniors ?  
Submitted by: Desiree K.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
If you mean scholarships for high school juniors, while some scholarships require that you apply in your senior year, it’s a good idea to begin searching and preparing for those applications now.

I am interested in nursing, can you identify any specific nursing scholarships in KY?  
Submitted by: megan l.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
You can use the app to search for scholarships in Kentucky that relate to your major of interest.

Can I get a scholarship even though I have no idea what I would like to become???  
Submitted by: Maria L.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
Sure. Many scholarships are available based on need, merit, location, etc. with no particular field of study. Give the app a try and start a search.

What class can I take to get scholarships?  
Submitted by: Brianna R.
Answered by The College Board on 02/01/12:
There’s no one particular class you can take to get scholarships, Brianna. However, taking challenging courses and doing well will prove helpful in obtaining any number of scholarships or grants.

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