What your Financial Aid Office wants you to know

Preparing to head off to college in the fall is a big, hairy deal. There are way, way, way too many details to keep organized. One detail that tends to get overlooked: paying for tuition.

Odd isn’t it? Most students would consider this a lynch-pin of attending college. Nonetheless, not one student is going to forget their cell phone this fall, but thousands will show up on campuses not completely sure how they are going to pay the tuition bill. It amazes financial aid offices around the country how many students fail to take care of this critical detail.

During recent conversations with financial aid professionals, I posed a simple question: “What do you wish parents and students would do or know to make the financial aid process easier?”

The answers were surprisingly consistent as they are relatively simple. [Climbs up on soap box]:

  • Apply early. The FAFSA is available after January 1st every year. If you have even an inkling that you will be attending college during the next academic year, complete it. This gets federal and some state aid started — however, the beginning of the school year is when to consider applying for a private student loan if you need more funds.
  • Educate yourself about the financial aid process. This website is a great place to start.
  • Tuition needs to be arranged for or paid before classes start. Think of it as buying a tangible product rather than paying later for a service rendered. Starting an academic year is stressful enough without having to worry about being behind on tuition.
  • Understand how loans work. Time and time again students are looking at the short term picture to the detriment of the future. Most loans have terms of at least 10 years. Be sure to research your options and shop wisely.
  • Read the information your college is providing you, please. Most questions will be answered before they are even asked. (I heard this more than any other suggestion.)
  • Take responsibility! “No one told me!” and “My parents take care of that stuff” are the excuses you should have left in grade school. This is your education and your future — the stakes are significant.

Eliminate a potential cause of stress this fall and deal with your financial aid and tuition bill today. [Steps down from soap box.]

That’s it for now — if you have any questions, please let me know. And enjoy the rest of your summer and best wishes for a successful school year!

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6 Responses to What your Financial Aid Office wants you to know

  1. Jessica Massimino says:

    I applied for a student loan through Wells Fargo and the loan still says “pending”. How long does this normally take? Normally, I apply, it gets rejected due to lack of credit, and one of my parents co-sign. However, the loan has not been denied, it just says pending.

    • Barbara says:

      Jessica – It depends on what items need to be addressed. Have you checked your status through Borrower Online Access? (https://wfefs.wellsfargo.com/boa/) It should list out where you’re at in the process. You can also call to check the status of your loan and what you need to do next – 1-877-412-5321 Also know for the future that you can apply with your cosigner rather than waiting to be denied and then bringing one on.

  2. Anonymous says:


    • Barbara says:

      Hi there – Are you talking about maxing out your federal student loan eligibility? If so, private student loans may be an option to cover any funding gap you have. If you’ve taken out all the private student loans you can through a certain program, there may be another option as well. Wells Fargo offers a way for parents or friends of a student who qualify to take out a loan in their name to help fund the student’s costs. Head over to https://www.wellsfargo.com/student/loans/parent/privatestudentloans to learn more.

  3. Zach says:

    I’m signed up and everything. I just can’t find the Self Certification form. When I sign on to BOA it doesnt have any links or anything for the form. Would you be able to tell me where to find it

    • Caroline says:

      We recently made a change to remove the Self Certification form from Borrower Online Access (BOA). We still require the form but we won’t ask for it until the loan is Conditionally Approved (all other stipulations are cleared) and we ask for your signature on the LRCCA. At this time you will see it on BOA and be able to download it.

The Student LoanDown

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