How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship
How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship
Are you applying for scholarships to pay for your higher education? Financial need and demonstrating financial need are two different things when it comes to scholarships. Learn the difference between the two and how to demonstrate financial need so you can find and win more scholarships. Demonstrating financial need is something that many scholarship applicants overlook, but demonstrating financial need is critical if you want to get a scholarship based on financial need.

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How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Financial Aid 101

At its core, financial aid is an institution’s way of helping students and families pay for college. It comes in many forms: scholarships, grants, loans—even work-study positions. Scholarships are based on merit or need. You can find out if you qualify by filling out a FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The application goes directly to your prospective school, so it’s a good idea to fill it out even if you’re not 100 percent sure you’ll go there.

As you evaluate your options, keep in mind that you may be able to use federal loans only if you are part of a low-income family. If your parents make $75,000 or more annually (as an example), their income is considered too high, and you may not be eligible for federal aid. The same goes for students whose families earn too much money—in some cases, it can reach as high as $200,000 per year before they are considered ineligible. Check with your school’s financial aid office before taking out any student loans or filling out any forms.


When it comes to paying back your loans, you can choose from several repayment plans. Under standard repayment, you’ll pay at least $50 per month until you’ve paid off all of your debt. Income-based repayment caps that amount at 15 percent of what you make each month (after taxes). If your income is very low, or if you’re unemployed or have other extenuating circumstances, you may be eligible for an even lower monthly payment rate. You don’t have to stick with that set amount forever either—the government will adjust your payments every year based on your new income and family size.

Grant money is an award that doesn’t need to be paid back. You may be eligible if you’re in dire financial straits, or if you qualify as a first-generation college student—someone who didn’t graduate from high school or attend college themselves. Even if you don’t fall into either category, chances are your school will have some type of need-based aid available to students; check with your financial aid office for details on how much and when it will come due. For example, colleges often give merit-based scholarships as part of their admission packages; though these awards can also come from outside organizations. Scholarships and grants like these don’t have to be repaid.

You can get federal loans in either subsidized or unsubsidized forms. The former means that you won’t have to pay interest on your loan until six months after you graduate (or leave school), and then only if your income is high enough. Unsubsidized loans start accruing interest right away, and you’re responsible for paying it off whether or not you need the money at that point. Most private lenders don’t offer any type of financial assistance—the interest is just part of doing business with them. Just because you don’t qualify for grants and scholarships doesn’t mean that there’s no way around an expensive education.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Financial Aid – Terms

Scholarships and grants are sometimes confused with financial aid. While scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid, student loans do have to be repaid after graduation. Financial aid is any monetary assistance you may receive from outside of your school or family so that you can pay for college-related expenses. All financial aid comes in one of two forms: gift aid or self-help aid. Gift Aid is money that does not need to be paid back, such as a scholarship or grant. Self-Help Aid is money that needs to be paid back, such as student loans and part-time jobs on campus.

Financial Aid – How do you show financial need:

Demonstrating financial need is proving that your family has insufficient resources to pay for school. This often means providing documentation of finances, including tax returns and bank statements. Sometimes you can also provide letters from your parents or guardians explaining their income situation, as well as from other individuals such as employers or relatives who may be willing to lend you money. If you’re applying for federal student aid, then a FAFSA form is necessary so that government officials can assess how much money you’ll receive each year.

To demonstrate financial need, you will have to prove that you cannot afford school without some sort of outside help. In other words, you have to show that your parents’ income is insufficient. To do so, gather documents showing your parent’s income. Then calculate how much money they’ll make during your college years based on their work history and any potential promotions.

For example, if your parent works as an administrative assistant and makes $20,000 per year at their current job, their expected income over four years will be approximately $80,000. Next, calculate how much school will cost. Then subtract all available financial aid from that number; for example, let’s say you have about $20,000 in scholarships and grants. Finally compare what’s left with your parents’ income; in our example that would be $60,000 – 80,000 = -$20,000 (negative).

Since you’re going into debt, it is important that you pay special attention to interest rates. Student loans typically have low-interest rates because they are subsidized by taxpayers and cannot exceed 8% (for Federal Direct Loans). However, if your parents are taking out private loans or using credit cards then their interest rates may be significantly higher. Also, consider what kind of loan you will get; some loans come with grace periods and other repayment options which may help save money in interest payments.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Factors Considered when Assessing Financial Needs

Most organizations that offer scholarships consider a variety of factors when assessing financial needs. Some take into account family income, others look at assets, and some take into account your parents’ income. Even if your parents make too much money according to traditional standards, you may still qualify based on other factors. For example, some awards are reserved for students whose parents have lost their jobs or have other extenuating circumstances. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t already know what they’re looking for (i.e., do they require income verification or not?), ask!

Many times financial need is assessed using a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is calculated based on family income, assets, and other factors. Your EFC will be used to determine your financial need in relation to all of your possible awards and also affects how much you’re awarded overall. You can calculate your EFC yourself by completing certain sections of FAFSA online or filling out paper copies of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before it’s due. What’s more, many organizations that award scholarships online will allow you to electronically upload an updated version of your EFC later if you become ineligible or receive more aid during college based on scholarships or federal loans or grants.

To help you get started, here’s an example of how these calculations work: Suppose your parents earn $30,000 per year and have an additional $25,000 in savings. You are not eligible for need-based aid and do not apply for any scholarships in your freshman year. Assume you then receive federal and state grants that pay nearly all of your tuition expenses during college. After receiving these grants, it would appear that you no longer qualify for other aid based on financial need. However, if you apply to any schools that require or recommend EFC submissions, they’ll learn from your EFC that there’s still over $14,000 available in financial aid to help with college costs.

What is demonstrating financial need? After you’ve completed your FAFSA or school’s form and sent it in, you will receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number shows how much financial aid you are expected to receive based on family income, assets, and other factors. If your EFC is lower than your cost of attendance or tuition at a particular school, you’ll most likely qualify for scholarships that require or recommend need-based criteria. You can also use your EFC when applying for merit-based scholarships. These awards aren’t based on financial need but rather on academic performance. The good news is that most merit-based scholarships consider both cost of attendance and EFC when making their selections!

To be considered low-income, you must have an EFC less than $0. You can calculate your own EFC by completing certain sections of FAFSA online or filling out paper copies of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before it’s due. The government awards grants and scholarships based on financial need and other factors, but many schools have their own criteria as well. If you already have an idea about what scholarships are available at your school, find out more about how they’re awarded—and whether there’s a demonstrated financial need requirement—when you fill out scholarship applications!

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Documenting Finances

Start by gathering documentation of your finances. This should include copies of all of your bank statements, tax returns, proof of income and anything else that helps you document your spending. While it’s important to understand what you make and spend, don’t forget to factor in significant expenses like student loans, rent or mortgage payments and car payments. Take some time gathering these documents; you may find it helpful to take pictures with a smartphone or scan copies into an electronic storage system like Evernote or Dropbox. Once you have these documents together, you can use them as proof that you need financial assistance from an outside source.

Be prepared to submit any copies of your documentation with your application. Whether you’re applying for scholarships through an organization or directly from a school, be sure that you can prove financial need. If possible, work with your school’s financial aid office and admissions department; they may have forms available that can help simplify your application process. Don’t forget to make copies of everything before sending it in—having these documents on hand will help you if you get asked to provide proof of financial need after applying.

You may need additional information if you have dependents who are dependent on your income or looking for scholarships based on any special circumstances. Many times, basic documentation of finances isn’t enough. You can often find ways to increase your chances of receiving scholarship money if you can show a financial hardship. If possible, consider getting statements from all of your dependents’ employers and add them to your application materials.

Any supportive documentation that proves you’re facing extenuating circumstances and require more help will be useful in convincing an organization that they should give you money. Keep these in mind as you apply, and don’t forget that presenting an honest picture of how much money it takes to keep everyone living comfortably will also help increase your chances at securing funding.

Your documentation will help you during your scholarship search, but if you’re awarded a scholarship, you’ll have more financial paperwork ahead of you. You may be required to provide tax documentation in order to receive your money. Contact your school’s financial aid office or other organization awarding scholarships and find out what they need from you—this will vary based on each individual grant or award. Typically, if an organization is giving out thousands of dollars in scholarships, they will ask for proof that students who receive them can’t otherwise afford tuition costs.

This is why having income documents on hand is so important; even after applying and being awarded funding, it’s still wise to keep copies of any documents proving how much money is coming into your account every month.

It’s possible that you might have other questions about financial need and how to present your situation when applying for scholarships. If you’re looking for specific information about scholarships in your area, contact your school’s financial aid office or visit their website.

They can answer specific questions you have related to how much money is available, how it works and what they want from applicants. In some cases, they may also be able to provide scholarship-specific forms or proof of income that you can use when applying; remember that many schools are going to require documentation of need so having everything ready helps simplify your application process significantly.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Ways to Define your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The EFC is an estimate of how much money families will contribute towards college. There are multiple ways to determine it, but it usually takes into account things like assets, income, and family size. Students who feel that their contribution will be above average should list out their projected contribution and provide documentation if possible.

The total of your need-based financial aid and your expected family contribution is considered your cost of attendance. Your cost of attendance minus any non-need based grants you receive equals financial need which is what you are eligible for in financial aid grants.

The FAFSA determines your EFC in different ways depending on how old you are when you apply. You can also use tools like FinAid’s EFC calculator, which allows you to input information about your family’s finances and displays an estimated need-based aid package for any given college. They have detailed instructions on their website as well as assistance with filling out all necessary forms and information regarding other financial aid resources, including private scholarships.

Many colleges also offer supplemental needs-based financial aid forms that can provide an additional boost to your award package. Keep in mind that some of these scholarship offers may require essays or interviews with committees who decide upon awarding them so they should not be taken lightly. Most of these end up being awarded on a first come first serve basis.

You can also use FinAid’s student budget calculator, which is much simpler than filing out all of your family’s finances on paper. It gives you a general idea of what you may need to live in various areas around your prospective colleges as well as information about financial aid at each college.

After filling in your family income and assets, it tells you how much financial aid you should be expecting and how much will have to come from savings or other resources like work-study. It also estimates expected housing costs at each college so you can make an informed decision based on location.

Additionally, you can contact your schools directly and ask them what their typical expected family contribution range is. If you have non-taxable assets like retirement funds or investments, it’s a good idea to convert those into cash before filling out FAFSA forms because there are restrictions on how much of these resources you can use for financial aid purposes.

After you fill out all necessary forms, your estimated aid should be displayed in your Student Aid Report (SAR). This will also indicate if there are any errors that need corrected. Some students may also be eligible for a state or school specific grant alongside federal need-based grants that can help subsidize tuition and living expenses.

Students who are filling out college applications may also be required to fill out supplementary information about their finances. Some schools will provide you with an estimate of your financial need directly on their admissions application form, which can be sent directly from your school’s website.

They may also have additional forms that ask more in-depth questions about your family’s finances and may require additional documentation like tax forms or bank statements. When filling out these supplementary forms, it’s important not to leave any fields blank because they will likely not calculate your EFC correctly and end up giving you incorrect information about how much aid you should be expecting.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Tips for Filling Out the FAFSA

To demonstrate financial need, complete and submit an application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is free and only takes about ten minutes. You can fill it out in front of your computer at any time—as long as you have all of your personal information ready. To fill out your FAFSA, you’ll need:

(1) your Social Security number;
(2) income tax return(s);
(3) proof of citizenship or permanent residency if applicable; and
(4) transcripts from each school that you’ve attended. While completing the FAFSA online is fairly straightforward, there are tips that may make filling it out easier

Do you have questions about filling out your FAFSA? The Department of Education’s FAFSA website is an excellent resource for answers. You can also visit your school’s financial aid office or speak with a financial aid counselor, who can help walk you through each step of filling out your FAFSA and discuss any other funding sources available to you. Ultimately, completing and submitting your FAFSA is essential if you want to receive any government-based grants or loans.

Do you need help completing your FAFSA? There are numerous agencies that offer assistance to students seeking financial aid. The Department of Education provides free FAFSA application assistance, as well as technical support, via both telephone and live chat from 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM Eastern Time.

Community-based organizations, such as your local United Way and other non-profit organizations also provide free FAFSA help. Finally, there are also private companies that offer additional services beyond just filling out your FAFSA forms—they’ll complete your entire application for you, which can save you significant time and effort.

Ultimately, completing and submitting your FAFSA is essential if you want to receive any government-based grants or loans. If you’re eligible for aid, it will be applied directly toward tuition and living expenses so that you can focus on school without worrying about finances. At any point in time during your academic career, if you need help filling out your FAFSA application—or have questions about financial aid options—you can always contact a student services representative from either your school or federal financial aid office directly. Your future begins now!

Tips on filling out your FAFSA Your social security number Make sure that your Social Security number is correct; enter it exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. Income tax return(s) Federal student aid applications require you to report all income (earned and unearned) from 2015. This includes any tax refunds you’ve received.

You should also report military pay, veterans’ benefits, interest or dividends earned from investments, child support, alimony, and financial assistance from outside sources such as friends or family members. Your school’s transcripts Most students will need to include their high school transcripts with their FAFSA application, especially if they plan on pursuing an undergraduate degree directly after graduating high school.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

Ways To Show You Have Need

There are several ways you can show that you have a financial need for scholarships. If your family is living at or below certain income levels, or if you have extraordinary expenses related to medical conditions and such, you may be able to demonstrate financial need.

Take photos of your refrigerator and pantry — pictures of your food storage will likely make an impression on scholarship judges. Create a spreadsheet where you list all your household expenses and upload it online so that judges can see how much money you actually have leftover each month after paying them.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship

The Different Types of Scholarships

There are numerous types of scholarships available, but you should pay attention to these two main categories: Merit-based and need-based. Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on academic excellence or achievement. Most require an application essay or supplemental information. They’re usually not limited by ethnicity, gender, age, disability status or other characteristics.

Need-based scholarships, on the other hand, are awarded based on financial need. Some types of need-based aid may be tied to an academic major or area of study. They don’t require an application essay or supplemental information and are often open only to a certain group (such as ethnic minorities or LGBTQ students). Most need-based awards come with conditions, such as maintaining good grades.

When it comes to financial needs, you may think of scholarships as money or loans. The former are paid out upon enrollment, while loans must be repaid-with interest. While federal student aid is usually only offered to those with financial need, there are still numerous grants and scholarships available based on merit. These awards don’t require repayment.

Scholarships are an excellent way to pay for your education. Not only can they be used for tuition, but some may also cover books, supplies, and other educational costs. How much you receive is dependent on a variety of factors—including what type of award you’re pursuing, whether it’s merit- or need-based and your field of study.

Need-based awards often don’t include room and board as part of their award package (like merit-based awards do). Keep in mind that federal student aid—including loans—should always be your first choice when funding college expenses. It’s best not to rely solely on scholarships or private sources since these funds may be limited or difficult to obtain if you experience financial problems during school or later in life.

The decision about whether you should apply for scholarships depends on your individual situation. If you’re an international student or financially independent, then scholarships may be a great way to fund your education. You can also qualify if you have special talents, such as playing an instrument or serving in an academic club. If you receive federal student aid, however, there are restrictions placed on how much extra money you can earn and still keep that aid.

Be sure to check with your school’s financial aid office before pursuing private scholarships or contacting potential donors; it’s possible that these sources could decrease your need-based aid or bar you from receiving it altogether.

How to Demonstrate Financial Need for a Scholarship


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