Ducerus Blog

How to (Properly) Prepare for Financial Aid Applications (Part 2)

Posted on Sep 14th 2018


How to (Properly) Prepare for Financial Aid Applications (Part 2)

Renewal Financial Aid Application season is officially about to kick off. For anyone who is or has children currently in college and who will be attending again in the Fall of 2019, read on for our college planning tips!

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Luckily, the renewal process is not as complicated as the first-year applying for financial aid often is so go ahead and take a deep breath before checking out our tips to prepare for the season!

During the renewal process, we usually hear the same 3 HUGE questions from parents:

  • 1. "Are you sure we need to apply for financial aid again even though we applied last year?"
  • 2. "My kid lives on campus and is even working, can't they be considered independent now?"
  • 3. "Are deadlines and requirements the same as they were last year?"
These are all great questions about renewal financial aid, and the answers are crucial to get right! Let's go through each one.

Top 3 Commonly Asked Renewal Financial Aid Questions:

Q: "Are you sure we need to apply for financial aid again even though we applied last year?"

A: Yes! Whether you received any financial aid last year, this year, or any other year before, apply for financial aid! We tell our clients that no matter what their situation is, fill out the applicable financial aid apps (the FAFSA for sure, possibly the CSS Profile if the school requires it, and any other supplemental documentation the school asks for) BEFORE the school renewal (also called returning student financial aid) deadline. Here's why:

  1. Your situation could change at any time. We have seen it happen many times each year! In general, it is easier to explain a change to an award later than it is to start from scratch and be late.
  2. Often, even scholarships and grants (athletic, academic, state, federal, all types!) require that the financial aid apps are submitted to the school as a formality.

Q: "My child lives on campus and is even working, can't they be considered independent now?

A: So many parents believe their financial information could be eliminated from the fin. aid equation by simply marking their kiddo as "independent" on the FAFSA. Although that would be great (independent student financial aid is usually calculated based on their own income and assets only) but the US Department of Education has outlined strict guidelines about what an independent student is defined as when it comes to financial aid. Download our helpful guide to determine independent eligibility for the 2019-2020 year.

Download our Independent Student (2019-2020 Year) Status Guide PDF Here!

Q: "Are deadlines and requirements the same as they were last year?"

A: That depends on your school!

  • Verify your school deadline for returning students by going to their financial aid website. A simple online search should point you in the right direction. (Try using phrases like, "University of XYZ renewal/current student financial aid deadlines") remember, you need to differentiate between a new student (which would be a high school senior) and a current student (already in college) deadline since renewal deadlines are usually a little later in the year. If you start to get confused, give the financial aid office a quick call, or walk in! They'll sort all confusion!
  • Typically, schools post their renewing (or returning) student financial aid deadlines and requirements on the same website.
  • We always recommend that you call your school financial aid office to verify:
    1. The exact requirements to renew your financial aid (be sure to identify which year you are asking about, the 2019-2020 application year is what opens on October 1, 2018.
    2. The deadline for each requirement to renew your financial aid
    3. We suggest you call them on or around October 1 (avoid the pure chaos in their office!)

The bottom line is, students who have any possibility of going/return to college for the 2019-2020 academic year should apply/reapply for financial aid after October 1st. It's usually a painless process for current college students and can mean the world of difference next year!

Each family situation is different so keep in mind that the guidance we provide here is helpful but also is generalized. Ducerus and our advisors are all around the country and have been through this process countless times so if you have questions about anything related to financial aid, including application prep and requirements, give us a shout! Instead of tackling your renewal alone, reach out to us on our "contact us" page to set up a 15-minute chat; no fuss, no pressure! Come back to our blog or on social media for more tips, checklists, and general guidance throughout the entire year, including renewal financial aid app info.

Happy Financial Aid Season!