Do you need help preparing for college?

Trying to figure out how to pay for college can be a frustrating and long process for parents and students.

The first step to receiving financial aid to go to a college or a university is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

No matter how much your parents make, anyone can fill out the FAFSA; however, your parent's income does affect what type of loans you can receive, and the different types of grants you qualify for.

"The FAFSA calculates what's called the Expected Family Contribution number (EFC)," Truman State University Director of Financial Aid Kathy Elsea said. "There's a big misconception with the name. People think that's what they're expected to contribute. If their number calculates out to be zero, they think that they don't need to pay anything for college. That may or may not be the case. Sometimes the Expected Family Contribution calculates out really high when there's no way a person could actually right a check for the amount. It's just a working number that the schools use to determine a student's eligibility for need based or subsidized financial aid."

The FAFSA can be filed using estimated information. Students are advised to go back and fill out the actual information as soon as it becomes available.

The FAFSA can be filled out anytime during your term of enrollment, and you can list more than one school on it.

Scholarships are issued through each school's admission office.

April 1 is an important date for Missouri students. If you plan to be full-time degree seeking student at a Missouri school, April 1 is the deadline for the Access Missouri Grant for $1,000.

The most a freshman can get are $5,500 and $3,500 of that being subsidized with a 3.4 percent interest, but that is going up to 6.8 percent after this year. Sophomores can get $6,500 with $4,500 being subsidized and juniors and seniors can get $7,500.

If you have questions about financial aid, you should contact the school you are planning to attend.

You can find more information about financial aid visiting;;;