GET $$$ for College 3/15/2014 at DC FAFSA/College Expo

Federal Student Aid (FSA) presents the FAFSA/College Expo on Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 10:00AM – 2:00PM at the University of the District of Columbia (near the Van Ness-UDC Metro)!  The event is part of the Washington, DC FAFSA Completion Initiative. This event will provide DC/MD/VA students and families with the opportunity to meet with various college representatives; receive assistance filing the FAFSA; and attend breakout sessions on topics such as scholarships, DC TAG and financial aid 101.

Students and families, REGISTER HERE.   SHARE!

Washington, DC FAFSA/COLLEGE EXPO March 15, 2014



DCPS College Readiness Workshop

Join us tomorrow, June 15th, 2013 at University of the District of Columbia for the DCPS College Readiness Workshop!

  • Are you a student interested in attending college?
  • Are you a parent seeking more information about how to afford college?
  • Do you wonder how a student can be admitted to the college of their choice?
  • Do you wonder how a student can best prepare for college success while in high school?
  • Would you welcome the opportunity to learn directly from admission officers and scholarship administrators how they evaluate student applications?

The DCPS College Readiness Workshop will provide scholars and their families with an opportunity to engage admission and financial aid professionals from selective colleges, universities, programs and scholarships around the country.  Scholars and their families will be exposed to what will be expected of them in the college admissions process.  You will also learn about programs that can support your goals of accessing a competitive, challenging college education.  High-Achieving 9th through 11th grade students and their families from the District of Columbia and surrounding communities are encouraged to attend.

Participating Colleges, Universities, and Programs

Amherst College – Amherst, MA

Barnard College – New York, NY

Boston University – Boston, MA

Chatham University – Pittsburgh, PA

Colby College – Waterville, ME

Cornell University – Ithaca, NY

Davidson College – Davidson, NC

University of Florida – Gainesville, FL

Gates Millennium Scholars – Washington, DC

George Washington University – Washington, DC

Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD

OSSE Higher Education Financial Services (DC TAG) – Washington, DC

University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

Phillips Academy Andover Postgraduate Year – Andover, MA

The Posse Foundation – Washington, DC

Princeton University – Princeton, NJ

Rutgers University – Camden, NJ

Tufts University – Medford, MA

U.S. Air Force Academy – Colorado Springs, CO

U.S. Coast Guard Academy – New London, CT

U.S. Military Academy at West Point – West Point, NY

Wellesley College – Wellesley, MA

University of Virginia – Charlottesville, VA

University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI




What is the FAFSA?

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first key step in applying for financial aid. The FAFSA is a questionnaire created by the Federal government that determines a family’s eligibility for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell grant, Perkins and Stafford loans, and federal work study. However, many states, scholarship programs, and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine whether a family needs financial assistance to attend college, and how much. You must fill out a new FAFSA each year that you plan to apply for financial aid.

What type of questions does the FAFSA ask?

The goal of the FAFSA is to understand a family’s financial situation in a given tax year. It will ask questions such as:

• What was the total income of the household? This includes both student and parent/legal guardian income.

• What assets are owned by members of the household?

• How many people are in the household of the family applying for aid?

• How many of those people are college students?

Fill out the FAFSA Early

The FAFSA is available and should be completed January 1st of the year that the student plans on attending college. So, rising seniors who will graduate with the class of 2014 will be able to fill out the FAFSA starting January 1st, 2014. Current seniors in the class of 2013 also have time to fill out the FAFSA for Fall 2013 or Spring 2014—but should complete the form right away!

A family should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st. Many colleges have financial aid deadlines in early February, and submitting financial aid paperwork late may cause a delay in receiving a financial aid award. The FAFSA is available online and most families complete and submit the form this way. It is available in both English and Spanish. Keep in mind that the FAFSA is free—a student should never be asked to pay to complete the FAFSA.

Check out this video from the U.S. Department of Education on completing the FAFSA.

Scholarship Highlights – May 17, 2013

DC Public Housing Commitment to Excellence Scholarship

June 8, 2013

Max Award: $5000 for students with at least a 3.5 GPA; $1000 for students with at least a 2.5 GPA

DC Public Housing awards scholarships annually to students who are residents of DC public housing or participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Minimum GPA of 2.5 required.

Big Sun Scholarship for Student Athletes

June 21, 2013

Max Award: $500

Student athletes are eligible for this award. Students must answer a three-part essay question.

Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship

June 30, 2013

The Automotive Hall of Fame awards students who demonstrate a sincere interest in a career in the automotive field. Minimum GPA of 3.0. Please see website for application requirements.


Scholarship Highlights – May 10, 2013

Team DC Scholarship

June 1, 2013

Max Award: $2000

Student athletes who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer are eligible for the Team DC Scholarship.

Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology

June 15, 2013

Max Award: $2000, renewable for four years

African-American students majoring in or planning on majoring in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) field are eligible for this scholarship. Students must be planning on attending one of a specified list of Historically Black Colleges/Universities in Fall 2013.

Herb Block Foundation Schoalarship

July 7, 2013

Max Award: $8000, renewable for two years

Residents of the DC area who are attending an area community college in Fall 2013 are eligible for the Herb Block Foundation Scholarship. Applicants must show financial need. The award is intended as a “last dollar” award to bridge the gap between what the student can pay and other financial aid already awarded.

Scholarship Highlights – May 3, 2013

Women’s Sports Foundation Linda Riddle Endowed Scholarship

May 10, 2013

Max Award: $3000

Female athletes who have participated in high school sports and are planning to pursue athletics in college are invited to apply for this award.

Society of Women Engineers Scholarship

May 15, 2013

Max Award: $20,000

The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to women admitted to accredited baccalaureate or graduate programs, in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology and computer science.

Educated Eats Scholarship

May 31, 2013

Max award: $2,500

Students who have at least 400 hours of culinary/food service experience and minimum 2.75 GPA are eligible to apply. Students should be pursuing the culinary field and current food industry/culinary professionals wanting to deepen their study.

Scholarship Highlights – April 26, 2013


Want to look as happy as these DCPS George Washington Trachtenberg Award winners? See below for upcoming scholarships deadlines! (Photo credit to Ductai Nguyen).

Toni K. Allen Memorial Scholarship

Association of Legal Administrators

May 3, 2013

Max Award: $15,000

This award recognizes students who have an interest in the legal profession, a 3.0 GPA, and a combined SAT score of 1400 or an ACT composite score of 21. Seeking DCPS and DC Charter School applicants! Email for the application form.

Spread Your Wings Scholarship

William O. Lockridge Community Foundation

May 3, 2013

Max Award: $1,000

Scholarships will be awarded to students who live and/or attend school in Wards 7 or 8 in Washington, DC. Students must have a 2.5 GPA or above to be eligible.

I’m First! Scholarship

Center for Student Opportunity

May 24, 2013

Max Award: $2,000, renewable for four years of college

Students must be the first generation in their families to attend college. Additionally, winners will have the opportunity to blog about their college experiences and offer advice to other first-generation college students.

It’s Financial Aid Friday

Every Friday, we will be discussing all things financial aid – how to find, apply for, and earn dollars for college; how to know a great financial aid offer from a good (or not so good) one; and how to prepare early to finance college. This week, we honor recently accepted high school seniors attempting to decode financial aid award letters they’ve received from colleges and universities.

Financial Aid Word of the Week

Award letter (n.) A letter received after you are accepted to a college/university that spells out what is included in the financial aid package from that college. Financial aid packages often include multiple sources of financial aid (grants, loans, work study) that are intended to bridge the cost between what you have to pay out-of-pocket and the total cost of the college.

Decoding a Financial Aid Award Letter

Whether it’s called the Candidate Reply Date, Common Reply Date, or Universal Reply Date, May 1st is the designated date that many colleges and universities have agreed on as the deadline for admitted students to give notification of their enrollment decision.   Less than a week from today seniors will make a final decision about where they will attend college.  While it’s important to choose a college wisely based on location, size, and academic program, families should also evaluate which school would be their “financial best fit” college. Some of the letters you and your family are receiving from colleges may look very different from one another, even though you submitted the same financial information when you applied. How do you know what you’re really getting from each college?

Five Basic Questions

As you review your financial aid award letters from each college, you should be able to answer these five questions:

  • What is the total cost (including housing and meals, fees, books, travel, and miscellaneous expenses) for one year at this college?
  • How much grant or scholarship aid (i.e. free money, no repayment needed) did the student get?
  • How much does your family have to pay for the first year? (Includes taking out a loan, working, or using savings.)
  • What are the options for paying the amount your family owes? Are those options realistic for your family’s financial reality? (For example, using a Parent PLUS Loan.)
  • What are your next steps? (Who should you call with questions or an appeal for more aid? What forms have to be submitted by what deadline?)

If the award letter doesn’t answer some of these questions, call the college’s financial aid office and ask to speak to a financial aid counselor directly. Never hesitate to speak with the admission and/or financial aid office at your prospective college or university.

(Questions thanks to

Financial Aid Tools

Award Letter Comparison

To help you compare financial aid awards, here are some online comparison tools that will help you evaluate the “financial best fit” college: Award Comparison Letter Tool College Board Comparison Tool

College Abacus Shopping Sheet

Loan Calculators

A loan calculator helps you understand what your monthly payments will be for each loan you’ve received, and how much you may need to make once you graduate in order to afford monthly payments.

ECMC Loan Calculator Loan Calculator

Federal Student Aid Loan Repayment Comparison Calculator

Examples of Financial Aid Award Letters

Experts look at real financial aid award letters (from 2007-2008), “decode” them, and give them a grade for clarity. Learn what to watch for while reviewing your own financial aid award letters.

Graduation Rate

You may also want to take a few minutes to review the retention and graduation rates of your prospective colleges and universities. A lower graduation rate may indicate other challenges that exist at the college or university that would require you to ask additional questions.

College Results Online

College Navigator

What Else to Consider

What does the college/university include in the cost of attendance?

Consider tuition, fees, room and board, travel expenses, books and lab fees, and miscellaneous expenses—like pizza with friends or laundry detergent. If the award letter doesn’t budget amounts for these categories, you should add them into your personal calculations.

Does this award meet 100% of my demonstrated need?

When you filled out the FAFSA, your family received a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount calculated that your family can afford to pay out of pocket for college expenses yearly. Colleges base their financial aid calculations on the EFC of each family. However, some colleges may not be able to award you enough financial aid to meet your entire “need,” or the amount between the EFC and the cost of attendance. Make sure that if the financial aid award and your EFC do not add up to the total cost of attendance (don’t forget books, travel, and miscellaneous expenses!) your family has a serious conversation about how to finance the remaining cost.

Can I renew merit scholarships?

Some colleges will award more grant money (i.e. free money) in freshman year. Before assuming that you will receive the same amount of grant aid yearly, ask the college whether you will be able to renew those awards. Be aware if the scholarship requires you to maintain a high GPA or is an enrollment or first year-only award.

What is the graduation rate of this college/university?

A college will be more expensive if you take more than four years to complete your degree (or two years for community colleges). Colleges with a higher graduation rate will be more likely to assist you in graduating on time thus reducing the amount of money you have to borrow or pay.

Have More Questions?

Call the financial aid office at your prospective college or university. You may leave us a comment here or call us: the College Readiness Initiative at DCPS at