From the Admissions Desk: How Do I Apply For Financial Aid?

This is Part 2 of a 4-part blog series on financing your education.

Applying for financial aid is a multi-part process. Why? Simply put, there are many moving parts. For instance, for each prospective student applying to IYRS there will be a different experience applying for financial aid. This is mainly due to the individual prospective student’s financial need, the types of financial aid they opt to pursue, and the awarding institutions. (See Part 1 of this 4-part blog series to review the types of financial aid.) Let’s compare two hypothetical prospective students to IYRS to illustrate how to apply for financial aid.

Anita is a senior at a Rhode Island high school who is planning to attend the IYRS Composites Technology certificate program. Anita met with her Guidance Counselor to discuss financial aid then brought home the information to her Mom. Together, they completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using her Mom’s tax and employment information. Then Anita completed the IYRS Scholarship. Anita followed up with IYRS to ensure her application was complete and she regularly used the online portal to track her FAFSA status. The IYRS Student Services team prepared Anita’s Financial Aid Summary (FAS) by reviewing her FAFSA and her IYRS Scholarship application. Anita then received the FAS and reviewed each award with her Mom before deciding what aid to accept as part of her plan to finance her IYRS experience. In summary, as a minor, Anita was able to coordinate her financial aid process with support from official administrators and her family. 

Trey is an active-duty US Army NCO separating after 12 years of service who is planning to use his Veterans education benefits to attend the IYRS Digital Modeling & Fabrication certificate program. Trey began his Transition Assistance Program (TAP) with direction from his unit commander and applied for his Veterans education benefits through www.va.gov.education. Because Trey knew which school he plans to attend, he sent his Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to IYRS Student Services. He also opted to complete the FAFSA in case his Veterans education benefits did not cover the program cost. He used his own tax and military service information to submit the FAFSA. Trey tracked his process using the online portals for the VA and FAFSA. Trey can expect a 4–6-week turnaround on his COE and far less time for the FAFSA Student Aid Report. Only when both the COE and FAFSA are verified can Trey expect to see his FAS from IYRS. To get ahead, he scheduled a tentative meeting with IYRS Student Services to review his FAS in 6 weeks. In summary, Trey was responsible end-to-end for organizing and submitting all of the required documentation and tracking that status of his financial aid process so that he had a complete picture of his benefits and aid. 

So, what can you expect? Now that you know you are going to apply for financial aid resources where do you begin?

1. Research your financial aid options

Start with your eligibility for Federal Student Aid. Identify the people or organizations who can help you research grants and scholarships, including IYRS Student Services. 

2. Organize the documents you need to apply

Make a chart listing each financial aid resource you are pursuing and the documents needed for the application. Add a column or spot to highlight due dates. 

3. Submit your applications on time!

Make enough time to review your work or even ask a peer to help review. Submit your applications and confirm receipt. Most online portals will show your progress or send an email confirmation. When in doubt, contact an institution by phone to confirm. 

4. Follow up on every application, especially if additional information is needed

The financial aid process, whether it is loans, grants, or scholarships, can take time. But, track the business days that pass and proactively check-in to be sure they aren’t waiting on you for additional information or corrections. 

5. Review each award notification with your school of choice

At IYRS, we encourage every prospective student to review the Financial Aid Summary (FAS) with our Student Services team in order to ask questions and explore your choices.

Keep in mind, each form of financial aid you receive will have a formal process for accepting the funds. For instance, if you accept Federal Student Aid in the form of loans you complete an interactive online training before signing your Master Promissory Note (MPN). 

Feeling ready to apply for financial aid? We hope so. Sallie Mae recently reported that fewer students are submitting a FAFSA than in years past and, in doing so, could lose out on financial aid resources. 

We’ll be back in Part 3 with answers to some frequently asked questions, including the benefits of completing a FAFSA.