What does a Financial Aid Counselor do?
A financial aid counselor works at a high school or university, and generally works directly with students and parents, assisting with the completion of financial aid forms, and making discretionary judgments regarding the distribution of financial aid to help pay for the costs of education. Someone who wants to be a financial aid counselor is generally required to have a bachelor's degree in the humanities or a related field, as well as at least two years of experience in financial aid or counseling. This job requires a high level of attention to detail, as well as extensive knowledge regarding various financial aid requirements and laws.
On a daily basis, a financial aid counselor will meet with students or parents/caregivers for a variety of reasons. Initially, a student may have questions regarding financial aid eligibility, or the various types of financial aid available. The counselor will need to be able to evaluate a student's needs and eligibility based on the information and financial data provided, and may then explain the differences between grants, loans, or scholarships, both from the government, from the university or school, or from a private party.
A financial aid counselor may then assist students in completing financial aid forms. He or she may meet with students individually, or in a workshop-type setting to help prepare a larger group of students for further education. The counselor will need to remain available after applications have been submitted in order to answer any questions, or help to resolve any problems that may arise between the aid recipient and the lenders or scholarship donors.
Some financial aid counselors at universities are able to make decisions regarding the disbursement of financial aid to individual students, based on need or mitigating circumstances. Other tasks may include regular verification that students are meeting the educational or financial requirements that make them eligible for financial aid; if the student's grades fall, for example, he or she may become ineligible for a certain scholarship or aid program.
It is important for a financial aid counselor to enjoy working with people. The job requires a great deal of interaction with students and caregivers, and the counselor must be able to explain complex financial concepts clearly. It will likely be necessary to work as an assistant in the financial aid department at a school before one is able to become a financial aid counselor, to ensure a solid understanding of laws and procedures.
A financial aid counselor can not only help you with your current financial aid needs, but also give you some good insight in to how much you will need to pay each month when you have to start paying back your student loans.
A good college counselor will encourage you to keep your student loans as low as possible. You will usually have 6 months after graduating to begin paying back your student loans, and the lower that monthly payment can be, the better off you are.
It's pretty hard to go to college any more without some type of financial aid. Thankfully there are people who are very knowledgeable about all of this to help you make sense of it all.
One of the first things you will need to do is make sure you meet the fafsa deadline each year. You can go online to the FAFSA website to find out what the deadline date is for each year. This form can seem a little intimidating at first, but once you have completed it the first time, it is much easier every year after that.
Working as a financial aid counselor can be a very rewarding job. Trying to navigate your way through the financial process when you are college can be quite challenging. Visiting the financial aid office at your school should be one of the first things you do when you arrive.
Once all your financial affairs are in order, everything else will flow much more smoothly. Because your college financial aid is only dispersed each semester, you will need to make sure you are current on your finances every semester. The financial aid counselors at your college will be a big benefit to you as you sign up for classes each term.
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