Resources

Financial Aid Resources

Financial Aid Resources

College is a major commitment that can reap major rewards throughout your life and career. But for many students, the cost of going to school can be daunting. That is when financial aid becomes a necessity. In an effort to help you plan properly and maneuver much of the red tape involved in the financial aid process, here are websites and other information that provide clear instruction and outline your options in order to make your decision easier.

Federal Student Aid
This U.S. Department of Education website can be used as a one-stop resource for information on:

• Preparing for College
• Types of Aid and Sources of Money for College
• Who Gets Aid
• Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)
• Managing Your Federal Student Loan
• College Planning for Parents

Federal Student Aid Facebook Page
Videos, information, and tips for planning and preparing for college can all be found on the official Facebook page for the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

National Student Loan Data System
This website, the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid, allows students to retrieve and review their loan information.

Downloadable Resources
Access books, brochures, videos, and tools from this U.S. Department of Education website. Downloadable resource guides include:

• College Preparation Checklist
• Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid
• Federal Student Aid for Adult Students
• Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

Ashford Net Price Calculator
The benefits of a college education can far outweigh the costs. Since funding your education can sometimes be a challenge, you should know the net price of your degree program before you start. The Net Price Calculator is designed for full-time undergraduate students, both at the Clinton campus and online, who are seeking their first degree. It will give you a clear estimate of how much it costs to graduate from Ashford University. Please visit the Net Price Calculator for more information.

Student Loan Code of Conduct
Ashford University officers and employees involved in financial aid processes including student loans adhere to the Student Loan Code of Conduct.

Avoiding Scams

The U.S. Department of Education offers these tips to help students applying for financial aid learn how to avoid fraud and identity theft.

Don’t Pay for Help to Find Money for College
Commercial financial aid advice services can cost more than $1,000. Charging for help or information that's available for free elsewhere is not fraudulent, however, if a company doesn't deliver what it promises, it's scamming you. If you're unsure whether to pay a company for help finding financial aid, stop and think for a minute: What's being offered? Is the service going to be worth your money? Do the claims, such as "We guarantee you’ll get aid," "Buy now or miss this opportunity," or "I've got aid for you; give me your credit card or bank account number," seem too good to be true or too risky? They probably are.

Try These Free Sources of Information

Types of Federal Student Aid
Other federal agencies
• A college or career school financial aid office
Your state grant agency
• The U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search
• Your library’s reference section
• Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
• Organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
• Ethnicity-based organizations
• Your employer
The Federal Student Aid Information Center

Don’t Pay for the FAFSA®
Several websites offer help filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. You are urged not to pay these sites for assistance that you can get for free elsewhere. The official FAFSA® is at fafsa.gov, and you can get free help from:

• Ashford’s financial aid office
Fafsa.gov
The Federal Student Aid Information Center.

If you are asked for your credit card information while filling out the FAFSA online, you are not at the official government site. Remember, the FAFSA site address has .gov in it.

Prevent Identity Theft
Criminals access personal data such as names, Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card information. Using the stolen data, the criminal can illegally obtain credit cards, set up cellphone accounts, and more.

Reduce Your Risk When Applying for Aid

• Apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA® at fafsa.gov.
• After completing the FAFSA® online, exit the application and close the browser; any cookies created during your session will be deleted automatically.
• Don’t tell anyone your FSA ID, even if that person is helping you fill out the FAFSA®.
• Review your financial aid award documents and keep track of the amounts you applied for and received.
• Never give personal information over the phone or Internet unless you made the contact. If you have questions about an offer of aid or about your student loan account, ask your college or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
• Your information is securely stored within the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) and you can access it on My Federal Student Aid. However, if you complete or even request a student loan application from a lender, you may be granting the lender permission to access your file. Before providing personal information to an organization, review its privacy policy.
• Keep receipts and documents (for example, credit applications or offers, checks and bank statements) with personal information in a safe place, and shred them when you are finished with them.
• Keep your purse or wallet safe at all times; store it and other items containing personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates.
• Immediately report all lost or stolen identification to the issuer (e.g., the credit card company or your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles) and to the police, if appropriate.

The information you share via secure websites (such as fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov) goes through a process called encryption. Encryption uses a mathematical formula to scramble your data into a format that is unreadable to a hacker.

Report Fraud and Identity Theft

Report Financial Aid Fraud
A company charging for financial aid advice is not committing fraud unless it doesn’t deliver what it promises. For more information about financial aid fraud or to report fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Report Identity Theft
If you suspect that your student information has been stolen, it is important to act quickly. These offices will help you determine what steps to take depending on your situation:

U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Hotline
Federal Trade Commission
Social Security Administration
Equifax Credit Bureau
Experian Information Solutions
TransUnion Credit Bureau

Additional Resources
You can gain further insight into budgeting, student loans, and the financial aid process from these articles on Ashford University’s Forward Thinking blog:

"How to Plan a College Student Budget" – September 3, 2014
"How to Stay on Top of Your Federal Loans" - June 4, 2014
"Recent Changes to the FAFSA" - April 30, 2014
"No Debt for Higher Education?" – July 24, 2013
"The Cost of University Tuition" – January 22, 2013