College is an expensive investment. Not only are there the expenses billed directly by the college—tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board—but the other expenses associated with attending: books, supplies, travel, off-campus room and board, and other personal expenses.
The good news is that there are several ways to help pay for all of this:
1) Grants: These are typically awarded based on need and do not need to be repaid, except under certain circumstances. There are grants awarded by the federal government—such as Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants—and by state governments as well as ones awarded by individual institutions. Check with your state and individual colleges’ financial aid offices to determine what grants they participate in and what information they need from you in order to apply.
2) Work-Study: The Federal Work-Study program matches students with part-time employment opportunities to help them cover school expenses. Like the federal grants discussed above, work-study jobs are awarded based on financial need. Check with individual colleges’ financial aid offices to determine whether they participate in the program.
3) Scholarships: There is a plethora of scholarships out there, just waiting for your application. They are typically competitive, but they are awarded to students of all sorts based on need or merit in disciplines like sports, academics, and the arts.
4) Loans: Unlike grants, work-study, and scholarships, loans are borrowed money that must be repaid with interest following your graduation from college. There are both federal and private loans.
Now that you are familiar with all of these, we’re sure you want to get started on applying! Here are your next steps:
1) Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal funding and work-study.
2) Check the list of colleges that participate in the College Board’s financial aid profile to determine whether to complete the CSS Profile as well.
3) Research state, local, institutional, and independent grants, loans, and scholarships, and talk to your high school guidance counselor and individual colleges’ financial aid offices to learn about additional sources of funding and their application processes.
In the coming days, CEW will post additional blog entries about scholarships, loans, and avoiding college funding scams. Keep your eyes peeled for more information!