Financial aid for students can be found from a variety of resources. It is often possible to pay for much of the expenses of an education if you combine a number of financial aid sources. There are three main types of financial aid for higher education:
- Grant: a gift of money that does not have to be repaid, usually awarded on financial need
- Scholarship: a gift of money that does not have to be repaid, usually awarded on merit
- Loan: a sum of money that has to be repaid with interest, just like a car loan, equity loan, or mortgage.
If you’re seeking a way to cover college costs, start by applying for financial aid offered by the federal government. They provide loans for higher education through accredited institutions which are participants in these loan programs. In addition, the government offers grants, scholarships, and even work-study deals. Make sure you apply for this financial aid, and get anything you qualify for before you consider lending from another source.
Federal Aid and the FAFSA
Federal financial aid is shelled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. The first step in getting your share is to fill out and submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). By doing this you are taking advantage of a chance to get free, or low-interest, monies to help fund your education. This is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss. Don’t fail to submit the application because you think that you are unqualified to recieve the monies. Far more students are eligible than you might think. In fact, nearly half of the college students that are eligible to recieve federal financial aid never even apply for it. The good thing about this is that it could mean more money for you, as long as you submit your own FAFSA. The FAFSA has to be submitted each year that you will be attending school. It will be far less of a hassle after you have submitted it the first time. And, it can be conveniently filled out online.
State Financial Aid
State governments provide financial aid for college students, too. The eligibility fot these scholarships tends to be based on one’s FAFSA. Each state has its own programs and policies; which usually consists of grants, scholarships and student loans. The deadlines for State financial aid applications is typically much earlier than the federal deadline of June 30th. So, you want to be sure to submit your FAFSA as close to January 1st as possible.
Privately-sourced Financial Aid
Financial institutions, such as banks, are the most well known sources of private financial aid, helping students to pay for their education with private student loans. Typically, private loans are not as beneficial to students as federal loans. So, it is a good idea to do as much loan comparison shopping as you can, paying attention to interest rates and loan terms and conditions.
Private grants and scholarships are also offered through community organizations, religious organizations, charities, various non-profit organizations, and professional and trade associations. Make an inquiry with your church or city council. Also, check with your local community service organizations to find out if they offer funding to students who have some volunteer service community hours under their belt. Even if you can acquire a small grant, this can be a big help in assisting you with paying for your education. Especially when you combine it with other forms of financial aid. A two hundred dollar grant may not seem like a lot, but it will, at the least, pay for some of your books. (Look into purchasing books online to make your money go further.)