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9 Must-have Resources for Your College Financial Aid Website

By: Rob Morris

Most people wouldn’t stand a chance to attend college or university without obtaining some kind of financial aid. Finding the perfect school is no longer the only priority; the average student looks for the best scholarship or grant to enable him to attend one of the colleges on his list.

Although there are many opportunities, it’s not easy to locate the right programs for every type of student. A college or university’s website should contain useful resources that would help an applicant find all the information she needs on paying for college. These are the resources your financial aid website or webpage should feature to be most helpful:

1. Calculators and Estimators

The most effective starting point for a student seeking financial aid is to enable him to estimate the costs for attending the school. If a prospective or current student finds a net price calculator and tuition estimator on the school’s website, he will avoid applying for unsuitable plans. All students need to be aware of the tuition and mandatory fees, as well as additional costs (books and personal expenses) before applying to college.

The page should also contain a scholarship estimator, which would enable potential applicants to determine if they are eligible for a particular academic-based scholarship.

2. Federal Student Aid

The Federal Student Aid website contains the answers to all questions a college applicant has:

  • How do I prepare for college?
  • What types of aid can I get?
  • Am I qualified to get aid?
  • How do I apply for aid?
  • How do I manage my loans?

A school’s financial aid website will be much more effective if it links to this page, which lists all grants and loans financed by the federal government.

3. Links to Scholarships and Traineeships

Don’t forget to include a list of programs suitable for students with specific aspirations, needs, and interests. Here are some examples of such options:

The more resources you provide for potential college students, the more effective the website will be and more likely those students will be to attend your school.

4. Writing Style

A financial aid website should be perfectly organized. It is very important to write good content and thoroughly explain all available options the students have. The content should be clear and informative; a potential applicant should never get confused when browsing the site. Remember: You may have been working in financial aid for years and the jargon may be everyday to you, but your students are new. There will be many things students don’t understand right away, especially if it’s written in complex terminology.

5. Scholarship Search Tool

A scholarship search tool, such as Fastweb, is an essential addition to the financial aid page of a university’s website. Students should easily find information about current and upcoming scholarships, as well as links that lead to their official websites.

6. State Sources of Financial Assistance

In addition to a list of scholarship funded by the federal government, the website should also provide information about programs guaranteed by the states. As a developer of the site, you should enable potential applicants to discover loans or grants provided by their states.

7. List of Repayment Programs, Loans, and Consolidation services

Some of the applicants won’t be eligible for scholarships, but will surely be interested in other options. Students who have graduated or are graduating soon may return to the financial aid website to learn about their options for loan repayment. Be sure to have information – similar to that we recommend for exit counseling – to guide them (this may also decrease your default rates!).

8. Tax Information for Students

At the student section of the IRS website, students can find information about filing their federal income tax return. In addition, the agency also provides information about education credits and federal student aid. Your financial aid page should link to the resources available at this website.

9. Calendar of Important Dates

You should regularly update the list of available scholarships and classify the expired ones in a different category. A calendar with scholarship application deadlines will be a very effective addition to the website. In addition, include important dates like the FAFSA deadline.

In order to make the page useful for prospective and current students, you should make sure they are able to find all needed information in one place.

About the Author:

Rob Morris is an online tutor, edtech fan and online course developer. Follow Robert on Google+!