Financial Aid & Scholarships
FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION
NOTE: The information on these pages is regarding "need-based" financial aid--money students can receive to help pay for college regardless of their academic history. Need-based financial aid is determined by the family's financial position. Need-based financial aid is how the majority of students in America make college affordable.
College Planners, Inc., a company with a long standing history with Westmont High School, presents information about financial aid during the annual WHS Financial Aid Information Night. All CUSD 201 families are always welcome and invited to participate in this event. Current seniors, juniors, and their families are strongly encouraged to attend. Please feel free to visit the College Planners, Inc, website for more information.
For information on "merit-based" financial aid--money students can receive based on good grades, strong test scores, community service, or other involvement--please view our Scholarship Information pages.
In this guide, the cost of college and the associated steps to pay for it is covered. There are 6 steps in total, including The Cost of College, The Steps to Paying for College, Financial Aid, Scholarships & Grants, College Savings Accounts, and Student Loans.
In 2017, the Student Loan Report started an initiative to create engaging financial literacy guides, tools, and videos for incoming college students. They recently created this guide (w/ videos!) called Private Student Loans Guide - Eligibility, Costs, Repayment & Warnings.
Applying for Financial Aid
All seniors should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Very few students pay the "sticker price" for college; the FAFSA is the best way the majority of American students reduce their out-of-pocket costs for college.
The FAFSA helps the government and colleges determine eligibility for financial aid programs. The FAFSA must be completed as soon as possible after October 1st of your senior year. Most colleges recommend that you submit your FAFSA no later than November 15th of your senior year. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. In submitting your FAFSA later than November 15th, you run the risk of receiving less financial aid award money.
In order to complete the FAFSA, students AND at least one parent or guardian will need to apply for an FSA IDthrough FAFSA. The FSA ID is how families "sign" their FAFSA. You can request your FSA ID before October1st; we recommend requesting FSA IDs by September 1st of your senior year. Apply for FSA ID by visiting Create a New FSA ID.
Financial Aid Packages
About 6-8 weeks after you complete your FAFSA, you will receive a SAR (Student Aid Report) listing all the information you submitted. Check the SAR, make any corrections and re-submit the form. Each college will calculate a financial aid "package" for you, which is a list of awards that could include a combination of grants, institutional scholarships, loans and work-study. If you completed your FAFSA by November 15th, you will likely have financial aid packages from the schools to which you have been admitted by the end of February.
Financial aid packages are calculated based on the amount of money each family and student is “expected” to contribute. These packages will list both need-based aid (in the form of grants, loans, and work-study) and institutional scholarships (money from the college rewarding the student for a strong academic history or special talent (i.e. music or athletics). Because financial aid packages do not always cover the entire cost of college, you should consider applying for private scholarships.
After you are accepted into a college, review the financial aid package awarded. Sometimes schools with high tuition and expenses may cost less than a college with lower tuition because of the amount of financial aid you receive. When you receive all your financial aid awards, compare them and decide on the school you will attend. Notify the Financial Aid Office of that school and obtain and complete all necessary forms.
Scholarships are a form of "merit-based" financial aid for college. Merit-based means that the awarding and amount of scholarships is determined by student's academic record, test scores, community service, school involvement, community involvement, or personal factors such as heritage. Regardless of a student's financial position, they can and should apply for scholarships.