Going to college in this 21st Century has become more expensive than ever and it typically requires money coming from multiple avenues in order to pay for education unless you’re very wealthy. Moreover, figuring out how to pay for college can be difficult and confusing. Many worry about paying too much, getting caught in a loophole, or borrowing a large amount of student loan debt.
When you complete your college search, start by applying for scholarships and grants, and continuing to build your college savings. Apply for federal, state, and college financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If your financial aid package falls short, consider private student loans to cover the remaining cost of college attendance.
Everyone’s financial situation is different. Attending college is a big financial decision not just for you but also for your sponsor. When it’s time to start planning how to pay for college, there are many resources to help you find a financial plan that works for you and your family and help you pay for college. We have broken down these three options below.
Through Scholarships and Grants
Everyone wants free money to help them attend college. There are many types of scholarships (they don’t all require that you have outstanding grades!), and they are provided by many different organizations. Each scholarship provider has its own application and its own rules to decide who can get its scholarship.
Apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible! The money you receive will go directly towards the cost of college, and you do not have to pay it back. This reduces the amount you must borrow in student loans and pay out of pocket.
Find scholarships you think you might qualify for and apply before the deadlines. And remember: There is no “secret” scholarship money out there. You don’t need to pay a consultant or join a society just because they say they can help you find scholarships. You can find them yourself and save some money.
Here are some free sources of information for scholarships:
— the U.S. Department of Labor’s FREE online scholarship search at www.careerinfonet.org/scholarshipsearch
— a high school, Upward Bound, or Talent Search counselor
— your library’s reference section
— foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups
— organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
— ethnicity-based organizations
— your employer or your parent’s (parent’s) employers (employer)
Through Federal Student Aid
Federal student aid comes from the federal government— specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It’s money that helps a student pay for education expenses at a college, career school, or graduate school. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for a computer and for dependent care. There are three main categories of federal student aid:
- Grant— Grant money usually doesn’t have to be repaid. Most U.S. Department of Education grants is based on the student’s financial need.
- Work-study— Work-study money is earned by a student through a job on or near campus while attending school and does not have to be repaid.
- Loan— Loan money must be repaid with interest.
Who Gets Federal Student Aid?
The most basic eligibility requirements are that you must
• demonstrate financial need (for most programs);
• be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
• have a valid Social Security number;
• be registered with Selective Service if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
• be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program;
• be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds;
• maintain satisfactory academic progress in college;
• sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM) stating that
– you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant, and
– you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes;
• show you’re qualified to obtain a postsecondary education by
– having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate or
– completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.
Work During School
The third option to pay for school, especially if you’ve already got a full or partial scholarship lined up, is to work part-time while you’re in school. This can help you pay for room and board, books, or possibly even tuition. If you take a year off you can save up money and use that for tuition and then also work full-time during the summers to try and get enough to pay for the next years worth of expenses.
Source: How to Pay for College