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Nitro Knowledge. Your Guide to Paying for College.


Here at Nitro, we frequently talk with financial aid officers at colleges and universities around the country. When we ask them about the biggest mistake people make when paying for college, we often hear the same thing.

“They don’t apply for FAFSA.”

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Okay, so you got financial aid, just...not enough of it.

Or maybe your financial situation has changed--a parent becomes unemployed, or takes a lower paying job, or money intended for college is now needed to pay for health-care--and suddenly your need is greater.

Perhaps aid you've been granted has been withdrawn. Or, you were denied outright.

No need to panic. You always have options. In these situations your first best option is a well-crafted financial aid appeal letter.

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You are not alone. Right now--at this very moment--millions of parents and students are asking the same question: how does paying for college actually work? It can be overwhelming. Daunting, to say the least. But you’ve come to the right place. Nitro is here to help clarify your options, decode the acronyms, and understand the process. So if you haven’t gotten any scholarships or filled out your FAFSA yet, don’t worry. If you’re not even sure what a FAFSA is...we’ve got you covered.

If you’re like most parents and students, you may not have enough savings to pay for the full cost of a college education. You will want to explore scholarships, grants, and loans to fill that gap. What follows is info you need to know to set yourself up for success--in college and in the years beyond--because financial aid decisions you make now will impact life long after graduation.


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The EFC stands for expected family contribution, a number that a college financial aid office uses to determine how much aid you’ll receive if you attend that school. In many cases, there is a significant gap between the calculated EFC and what your family can actually contribute to your educational costs.

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As you know, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply for state, federal and institutional financial aid as soon as possible after October 1. Even if you doubt you’ll qualify for need-based financial aid, completing the FAFSA makes you eligible for some student loans and is a requirement when applying for scholarships and grants from your school.

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When filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), many students and parents have questions regarding information changes, timelines, requirements, application deadlines, taxes and more. Read on for some of the most common questions related to the FAFSA and some easy-to-understand answers.

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