By Jenna Moede
Okay, we need to address the elephant in the room. Money!
No one can deny that for a college education, you’ll have to shell out some money or earn some scholarships. Now that you have finished registering for classes, you need to take this on next.
Usually you will need to complete registration before your financial check-in because the number of credits you take will help determine the final cost for the semester.
Also, before you write that check, search all scholarship avenues.
When I started college, I had no idea that scholarships for military spouses even existed. I didn’t look for opportunities, and I don’t want you to make that mistake too.
Scour the internet for scholarship opportunities and apply for everything you qualify for. You never know what you’ll earn.
Also, if you plan to use federal student loans, make sure you complete your FAFSA with ample time. That will come into play before you begin classes and before your financial check in.
Don’t forget that you will have to fill the FAFSA out for each school year not each calendar year. If you start, for example, in the summer of this year, you will have to fill out a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year, and then, come August, you will have to fill out another for the 2017-2018 school year.
I actually had friends who didn’t know that and really did miss the deadline. I saw some very unhappy parents because of it.
Lastly, FAFSA will allow you to select several schools you’d like to send the information to so make sure you select your university when given the option. Doing it this way will save you time in the long run.
Now that that part is out of the way, let’s look at financial check-in. At many schools you may have to complete it every semester, but it really doesn’t take too long.
I didn’t know about financial check-in when I first started online classes because while I was a student on campus I didn’t have to do it. I also didn’t check my email very often which kept me from finding out about it until the very last second. Huge mistake!
I found out about and completed my check-in on the last day I possibly could. I almost missed the deadline, and I would have missed my first online classes too. Not really the way I was looking to start out.
You should find your financial check-in on your school’s online platform and you may even receive an email with a link or directions to access it. I swear I never knew email could actually come in so handy until I finally checked mine!
As you check in, make sure any and all scholarships you have earned show up in the ledger. If you see a mistake, don’t continue with check-in, but reach out to a school representative who can help you straighten it out.
After everything looks correct, you should see either a balance due, credit owed or a zero balance. You will most likely have the opportunity to deny excess loan amounts or you can choose where to send them.
Make this decision wisely and remember that if you have a loan credit, have will still most likely have to pay them back, probably with interest. I have seen people treat this refund like free money and had to pay the piper, literally, when the loans came due.
Because of possible issues with scholarships and more, I recommend doing financial check-in as early as you possibly can. It allows excess time to correct any errors.
I had no idea what to do my first time around, but after you get the hang of it, and you will after the first semester, it really doesn’t take that much time or effort. I think you’ll find it pretty painless.
Once you have completed your financial check-in, you will receive a confirmation and you can start preparing to ace your courses. You will only have a few final steps left before classes really begin.