- What Do I Need For Financial Aid
- I Got My Financial Aid Packages
What Do I Need For Financial Aid – Financial aid is money that students can get from the government and other entities to help pay for their college education. It includes grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study.
According to EducationData.org, the cost of attending an in-state, 4-year public university is nearly $26,000 per year! That means you’re likely to pay $100,000+ for your entire education—ouch.
What Do I Need For Financial Aid
Before you panic and rethink your decision to go to college, know that you don’t have to go it alone.
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Financial aid comes in many forms and from many sources, and it can significantly reduce the amount of cash you have to fork out for college.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of financial aid and how you can get the aid to help cover college costs.
Financial aid is money students receive from the federal and state governments, schools, and private entities—including some businesses—to help pay for college.
Financial aid generally includes any money that does not come from the student or their family. It often takes the form of grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans—all of which we’ll define in a moment.
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Some forms of financial aid are free—you never have to pay them back—while others are just loans that you’re expected to eventually pay back.
With the rising cost of college, many students rely on financial aid and would not be able to obtain a higher education without it.
Financial aid is usually provided to students by the federal and state governments, individual schools, and other private organizations.
Need-based financial aid is awarded to students based on demonstrated financial need—proof that you can’t afford to attend college without aid.
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• Federal financial aid is need-based and is awarded based on the difference between the cost of attending school and the amount a student’s family can afford.
Merit-based financial aid is awarded based on some form of achievement, whether academic, athletic, artistic or otherwise.
Merit-based aid does not require a student to have a financial need for the money. Achievement-based financial aid often comes in the form of scholarships from schools and private sponsors.
Students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and include information about their family’s financial situation to apply for many of the need-based aid options.
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In the case of merit-based financial aid, some may be automatically received from the schools you apply to—although you may still be required to complete the FAFSA to qualify. Other merit-based opportunities will require separate applications.
There are many types of financial aid available to help students finance their education. Here are the common types:
A grant is a free form of aid that students can give to help pay for college. Grants are often need-based financial aid, meaning they are given to students who truly need them.
In addition to federal grants, there are also grants available from state governments, individual schools, and private organizations.
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Like grants, scholarships do not need to be repaid after a student graduates. They can be need-based but are often based on a particular achievement or skill.
First, schools often use scholarships to attract high-achieving students to their school rather than to another school. Merit scholarships are not commonly used in private schools.
Scholarships also often come from industry organizations. For example, medical professional organizations may award merit-based scholarships to students going to medical school.
Companies award scholarships for a variety of reasons, such as to award high-achieving local students, to reward employees by helping their children pay for college, or to attract students who might one day work for their company.
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Undergraduate and graduate students who qualify for work-study are guaranteed a certain amount of salary. But unlike grants and scholarships, they have to work and earn an hourly wage to get the federal aid money.
Schools hire students to work for their studies, and local nonprofits or public organizations can also join the program to provide students with work, as long as the work is in the public interest.
Many work-study jobs pay minimum wage, but students can earn more depending on the type of work and the amount of skills required for the job.
Student loans are one of the most common types of financial aid students use to pay for college and are generally the only type you will need to repay after graduation.
I Got My Financial Aid Packages
In addition to federal student loans, you can also apply for a private student loan through financial institutions. While these loans have some similarities, there are also some important differences.
First, unlike many federal loans, private loans require a credit check, and eligibility and interest rates offered are based on the borrower’s creditworthiness.
Since you’re a student, chances are you don’t have much positive credit history yet, so you may need someone else—like a parent—to cosign your loan.
There are often no income-based repayment plans available with private loans—these are plans that adjust your monthly payments based on how much you earn.
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Students may also have a harder time pausing payments or seeking loan forgiveness if they are struggling financially.
In general, private student loans should be your last option for paying for college, because they are expensive.
Once you know you’re going to college, it’s never too early to start planning and applying for financial aid. Many scholarship applications are open to students as early as their high school years.
You can also start researching early to find out what types of aid you might be eligible for and what requirements you should try to meet.
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One of our advisors can help identify which scholarships and grants you’re almost eligible for and what you need to do to meet the requirements, so you can get the money for free.
FAFSA is the form used by the federal government and schools to determine what need-based financial aid you qualify for.
The FAFSA collects information about your family’s income and assets to determine how much of your family’s education you can afford out of pocket.
The difference between your cost of attendance and your expected family contribution is often the maximum amount of need-based aid you qualify for.
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After you complete your FAFSA and receive your college acceptance letter, you will receive a financial aid offer letter from each school.
This letter indicates how much aid—and what kind—the federal and state governments and the school have offered you. Your offer letter may contain a combination of several types of financial aid.
The CSS Profile is a financial aid application that many private schools use to provide students with non-federal financial aid.
Like the FAFSA, the CSS Profile will ask for detailed information about your family’s financial situation to determine how much money you need.
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Unlike the FAFSA, which is free, the CSS Profile requires a $25 fee, and an additional $16 for each additional school report.
As we mentioned earlier, many private organizations award scholarships to students based on many factors. Some scholarships are need-based, while many are merit-based.
There are many niche scholarships available, which are those available to a very specific group of people.
If there are any gaps to fill in financing your education, now is the time to seek additional help.
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Check out local resources, too, to see if any local businesses or nonprofits are offering help you might qualify for.
In the case of federal aid, you contact your school’s financial aid office to find out when any money will be awarded and how it will be awarded.
Usually, your aid will go directly to cover your tuition and other fees, but you may get a check or direct deposit from your school and the excess to cover the cost of books, room and board, and more. In the case of scholarships, some may send the money directly to you, while others may send the money to your school.
Once you graduate, it’s time to start paying back any financial aid loans like federal loans and private loans.
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You will usually have a 6 month grace period for federal student loans. During this time, you can start preparing your budget and choose your repayment plan.
Both federal loans and student loans must be repaid after you graduate unless you qualify for one of the federal loan forgiveness options.
But other types of financial aid such as grants, scholarships, and work-study generally do not have to be paid back.
If you don’t qualify for enough financial aid to finance your entire education, you can apply for private student loans to help fill the gap.
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You can also consider working during the school year and during summer vacation to finance part of your tuition in cash. Or choose a more affordable school. There are other ways to reduce your expenses as well, such as living at home, or going to school part-time.
There are billions of dollars in unclaimed aid each year—much of which is passed on because students either don’t realize they’re eligible or don’t know how to apply. If you are worried about not getting enough money to pay for school, contact one of our advisors and we will help you find the money that is possible to pay for you.
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