Strategies for When You Apply for Financial Aid the Next Time

When you first applied for financial aid at Azusa Pacific University or another college, the process might have felt complex. After all, you needed to gather financial information for yourself and your parents, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the first time, and review grants and scholarships you might qualify for—all on a tight timeline.

The good news is that each time you apply for financial aid, it gets easier. You have more experience, so you can make wiser decisions and smarter allocations. Plus, it’s an opportunity to find scholarships and grants you weren’t aware of or didn’t qualify for previously. You may also find you can lower the amount you need in loans.

Here are five steps to take as you reapply for financial aid in your sophomore, junior, and senior years.

1. Start with the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the cornerstone of the financial aid process, helping you qualify for federal grants, work-study jobs, and loans.

Filling out the FAFSA is easier the second time around. Not only do you already have experience with it, but you also have your account set up with your login information and the school you’re attending. Plus, you may have already configured your account to pull information from federal tax returns, so you don’t have to input a lot of numbers.

If you’re filling out your FAFSA for the second, third, or fourth time, log in as a returning user, select “Renew my FAFSA Form,” update anything that’s changed, provide your financial information, sign, and submit.

2. Review Eligibility for Academic Scholarships

Many incoming APU students receive academic scholarships that range from $12,000 per year to full tuition. These scholarships renew every year for up to four years as long as you maintain a 2.8 GPA (for most academic scholarships) or 3.0 GPA (for Trustees’ scholarships) and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress. So, as long as you keep up your grades, you should receive your academic scholarship every year.

3. Check Qualifications for Need-Based Awards

During your college years, your financial situation might change. Maybe a parent who’s supporting you lost a job, a sibling started attending college, or your family faced high costs for health care. In cases like these, your family’s overall expenses might be higher, which means you could qualify for an APU Grant or a Bishop Dixon Scholarship.

To be considered for these awards, complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. The 2023-2024 academic year applications opened on October 1, 2022. Both of these awards can be renewed for up to four years as long as you’re eligible and make satisfactory academic progress.

4. Look at Department- and Organization-Specific Support

APU offers scholarships for students studying in certain areas or participating in certain activities, such as those for:

  • Athletes
  • Forensics students
  • Biochemistry or chemistry majors
  • Theater and acting majors
  • Veterans

So, if you’ve changed your major or joined a campus organization, you could qualify for a specialized scholarship.

5. Research Scholarships for Locations and Life Circumstances

You could receive a scholarship if you live in a certain area. For example, in Los Angeles County, you might qualify for the Ebell of Los Angeles Scholarship, which funds 60 to 70 scholarships every year. If you live in certain parts of California, Texas, Illinois, or New York, you may qualify for $500 to $5,000 from the East Los Angeles Community Union Scholarship. If you’ve moved since the previous academic year, you may find greater eligibility.

The State of California also offers several grants to residents, including Cal Grant A, Cal Grant B, Cal Grant Dream Act, and Chafee Grant for Foster Youth. You may qualify for these grants if you meet income requirements, are an undocumented or nonresident student, or were in foster care between the ages of 16 and 18.

Making College More Affordable

Want to learn more about making your college education more affordable? Reach out to APU’s Financial Aid Office to learn more about the process when you apply for financial aid and the scholarships, grants, work-study jobs, and loans that might be available to you.