When you see the sticker price of a college for the total cost of tuition, room, meals, books, etc., most people believe that this dream may be out of reach for the average student, both academically and financially.
Knowing what types of financial aid are available will lessen your anxiety about the cost of college.
Keep an open mind and consider all your options because there are several ways to get money for college.
Grants/Need-Based Financial Aid
Grants are funds that do not need to be paid back but will require the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year while attending college to see if your aid eligibility has changed.
Need-based aid may come from a variety of sources:
PELL, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, College Work Study Program.
Grants may be sponsored in your state if you attend college in your home state.
Provided by individual colleges to help lower out-of-pocket costs to the student or opportunities for on-campus employment or part-time jobs.
Certain scholarships have requirements for students who demonstrate need.
You may be eligible for the funding if you have a strong academic background, demonstrated leadership, or special talents that set you apart from other students, as scholarships are not often provided solely on financial need.
While no repayment is needed, most scholarships come with requirements, such as participation on a team, use of your talent, or achievement of a specific grade average for renewal.
Some of the sources include:
ROTC programs (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard).
For students who attend college in their state of residence, academic scholarships may be available with specific criteria to receive the funds (GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, etc.).
Academic, athletic, talent, or endowed funds that may require a supplemental application, interviews, auditions, or portfolios.
Searching scholarships funded by businesses and organizations on Fastweb or scholarships.com to identify local and national sponsors and apply for awards ranging from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars.
Loans sometimes get a bad reputation as the funding of last resort, but if they allow you to attend the college of your dreams, they can be a worthwhile investment for the student.
Discover student loans in two categories:
This can be either a subsidized or an unsubsidized loan, but it comes with an interest rate determined by the government. Students are required to begin payments six months after they have graduated from college.
Sponsored by banks and agencies, these loans typically have higher interest rates and varied repayment schedules.
Each family’s situation is different, so if all of this sounds overwhelming, reach out to professionals who can help you navigate these options rather than relying on your neighbor’s experiences.
Variables like the number of siblings in college may also change a family’s eligibility. Keep in mind that any student aid or scholarship obtained will keep money in your pocket, so it is worth the investment of time to research, plan, and put in the time.
If five hours of FAFSA preparation and/or scholarship application completion result in $2,500 in grants or scholarships, you were rewarded $500 per hour for your work!