Greetings from St. Edward's University and Austin!
For more than two decades, I have dedicated my career to supporting students through the financial aid process. The counseling team at St. Edward’s always starts with this advice: Start learning about the process early. The more students and parents know about qualifying for scholarships and aid, the better you can plan.
Another important step is to meet with a college financial aid counselor to discuss your eligibility and needs. At St. Edward’s, your personal counselor will work with you — throughout your student’s college career and beyond the hilltop — to identify all of the scholarships, grants and loans your student qualifies for, and walk you through the application process.
To help you learn more, we've compiled answers to 10 questions we hear most often from parents about financial aid and a useful glossary of terms. See them below.
The value of a college education is considerable. Let us help you make it happen.
Sr. Director of Student Financial Aid
Student Financial Services, Main Building, Room 204
800-555-0164 or 512-448-8523
Top 10 Questions Parents Ask
Q. How can we afford the higher cost of a private college?
A. Don’t let the cost of a college keep your student from exploring a school he or she is truly interested in. Your student may be eligible for financial aid and scholarships that will bring the cost of tuition into your price range. In fact, your out-of-pocket costs at some state universities and out-of-state public universities can be the same or higher than your costs at a private college. (Private schools often offer more scholarships and grants than public schools.) So look carefully at the financial aid each college can provide your student and how it affects the total costs (tuition, room and board, fees, books, transportation, etc.) of attending.
Q. What type of financial aid is available?
A. Financial aid takes many forms that fall into three categories: merit-based, need-based and supplemental aid. Your student may be eligible for scholarships, grants, loans and work-study when he or she applies. Scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back. Loans must be repaid.
• MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS – These awards are based on high school performance and SAT/ACT scores.
• SPECIALTY SCHOLARSHIPS – These awards are based on superior achievements in athletics, the arts, ROTC, community service or other areas of noteworthy accomplishment.
• GRANTS – This financial assistance is based primarily on income, family size and asset information. It can be offered by a university or by the government.
• LOANS – Most student college loans offer low, fixed interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
• FEDERAL AND STATE WORK-STUDY – This program provides part-time university employment.
• LOANS – A number of supplemental educational loan programs exist to allow families to borrow up to their student’s full cost of attendance.
Q. Can we find out how much aid colleges will offer before my student applies to them?
A. Yes. Every college is required to provide a Net Price Calculator on their website that gives you an estimate of the total cost of their school in a single academic year. Net Price includes tuition, room and board, and other expenses minus the amount of scholarships and grants your student may receive. (Remember, scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back.) Some calculators also estimate student loans you may qualify for. Financial aid is formally awarded only after your student applies, is accepted to the school and submits the FAFSA. Try our easy-to-use Net Price Calculator.
NOTE: To make sure you compare apples to apples, look for the upcoming academic year’s tuition to be reflected in each school’s Net Price Calculator. Schools have different cycles for updating their calculators, and some may be out of date.
Q. What’s the best way for my student to find scholarship opportunities?
A. Your first resource for scholarships is the colleges your student applies to. Most schools offer freshman scholarships for high-academic achievers. For example, high school seniors who apply to St. Edward’s are automatically considered for academic scholarships of $14,000- $26,000 annually. Colleges also offer other merit-based aid that may apply to a student’s special interests, talent or background.
In addition there are thousands of scholarships offered by outside sources, such as employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, religious groups and other organizations. Your student’s high school guidance counselor can provide resources and point you to free web tools that can help you find scholarships. Be aware that you should never have to pay to find scholarships or financial aid information.
Q. What’s the first step in applying for student financial aid?
A. Start by completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Nearly all colleges and universities use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans and work-study programs. The FAFSA is available online beginning Oct. 1 of your student’s senior year. You can access it, and also download a handy FAFSA Worksheet, at fafsa.ed.gov. Be sure to include St. Edward's school code 003621.
NOTE: To apply for financial aid at St. Edward’s, you only need to submit the FAFSA. However, some colleges require additional forms or applications for aid along with the FAFSA. Check with each school’s financial aid office for specific requirements.
Q. How do we begin filing a FAFSA?
A. First, get an FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov. Your FSA ID allows you to complete and sign your FAFSA electronically, and check the status and make corrections to it online. Students and parents must apply for separate FSA IDs. You’ll use your same FSA ID throughout your student’s college career to complete the FAFSA and access your records, so file it in a safe, convenient place. Learn how to create an Account Username and Password (FSA ID).
Q. When should we complete and submit the FAFSA?
A. The earlier, the better. Financial aid is limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Your student should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1 of his or her senior year. Be sure to include each school’s federal code in the school release section, (for example, our code is 003621), and record the confirmation number you’ll get when you file your FAFSA.
Q. Do colleges have deadlines for their best financial aid offers?
A. Yes, and they vary. So check with each school for their exact admission and FAFSA deadlines. At St. Edward’s, January 15 is the priority deadline for entering freshman admission and for filing your FAFSA. Meeting these deadlines ensures you’ll receive our best possible financial aid package. Once your student has been accepted to a college and the school has received your FAFSA, they’ll send your student a financial aid award letter that details the aid he or she is eligible to receive.
Q. Will the same financial aid my student receives as a freshman be awarded automatically in his/her sophomore, junior and senior years?
A. This is an important question to ask each school. At St. Edward’s, your student can normally receive a similar aid package for three additional years. However, your student must file a new FAFSA each year and meet certain academic requirements to continue receiving funding.
Q. What if our family’s income is too high to qualify for need-based financial aid, or too low for aid to make much difference?
A. Financial aid is intended to help make college affordable for students from many different situations. Along with income and certain assets, financial aid counselors consider the number of household dependents and family members in college, medical and disability expenses, and other factors. Schools have different criteria for awarding aid, and their offers can vary greatly. So don’t rely on just one school for your definitive financial aid offer.
Regardless of income, your student should complete and submit a FAFSA. Most families are eligible for multiple types of aid and are often surprised by the amount of aid they can receive.
Q. Do we have to accept any student loan offers?
A. Families are not required to accept loan offers, but many feel they provide a means for students to help invest in their educational costs. Much like borrowing a loan to finance larger expenses like a home or car, many families choose to borrow through federal, state or private loan offers in lieu of other financing options such as higher interest credit cards or short term payment plans. Federal student loans offered through the FAFSA have low, fixed interest rates and provide a variety of flexible repayment options. Learn more about Student Loans.
Financial Aid Glossary provides definition/descriptions of terms that are related to Financial Aid Programs and/or acronyms.