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11 Time-Tested Tips For Dealing with Financial Aid

Like any other process, the rules, regulations, maximums, and minimums of financial aid will change as the years progress. There are, however, certain stable recommendations that will stand the test of time.

Here's a valuable compilation of 11 time-tested tidbits of advice offered by financial aid administrators from throughout the New York metropolitan area.

1. Apply. Never assume your family's eligibility (or ineligibility) for financial aid. Allow financial aid offices to make those determinations and be sure apply.

2. Utilize your high school's financial aid office. Financial aid professionals are ready, willing, and able to help you through the college financing process. Stop in or call if you have questions to be answered.

3. Realize that financial aid is a broad term that includes scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. An award package can be a combination of any or all of these types of financial aid.

4. Take ownership of the process. Read everything you can to stay informed.

5. Keep involved. It's important that you take an active approach in the process and understand the costs of furthering their education.

6. Apply early. As grandma used to say, "The early bird catches the worm." This certainly stands true for financial aid.

7. Remember to renew annually. Financial aid applications must be completed for every year that you attend college. Don't take for granted that you're financial aid package will always be the same.

8. Remember that a student loan is an investment in yourself. If taking out a student loan will spell the difference between you being able to attend college or not, consider your lifetime earning ability with and without a degree. You'll soon realize that it is the best investment you can ever make.

9. Ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you have but don't ask. If you are uncertain about something, ask a financial aid counselor.

10. Keep all of your options open. You should apply for as many types of assistance as possible. Weigh your options with your parents and decide from there.

11. Don't pay to file your aid applications. Certain private services offer to file scholarship and aid applications for you and guarantee that you will receive aid. The cost for such services can be as high as $700. Save your money and apply on your own!