Parents who have a child going to college in the next year or so are paying particular attention to cost due to the current economic uncertainties. Many are feeling stressed, confused and intimidated about applying for financial aid. While this can sometimes be a daunting task, it may be easier than you think. Getting the facts and understanding what financial aid is all about will relieve some of your anxiety.
Financial aid is an essential component of any college education. Most people would not even be able to attend college without financial assistance. Financial aid does not only cover tuition, room and board, but can be used for other college expenses as well. Financial aid is provided by federal, state, institutional, or private sources and may consist of grants, loans, work-study, or scholarships. Financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated financial need and availability of funds.
Financial aid is available for students in a variety of circumstances so parents should always complete an FAFSA application. Many families with an income in the six digits receive financial aid. In addition, if your family has experienced a significant financial change, you should contact a financial officer at the school your child is planning to attend and explain the situation. Most colleges want to work with you and make attending their school possible.
Loans are financial assistance that must be repaid. However, unlike other kinds of loans, need-based student loans do not have to be repaid until your student graduates from college. Loans for college are available at low interest rates to students and parents. Loans must be paid back. You do not pay back grants. Some loans are based on financial need and others are available regardless of your financial circumstances.
College scholarships are available to students who have demonstrated considerable merit or financial need. Some are awarded to students with special circumstances. For example, college scholarships are awarded to qualified students with moderate to profound hearing loss to continue their education at undergraduate and graduate levels. Any student who feels that he or she cannot afford a college education should seek out college scholarships, because the funds are available for those who look for them. Students must demonstrate a serious commitment to academic excellence.
Merit-based aid does not require a FAFSA but it is strongly encouraged, as these scholarships rarely pay the entire cost of attendance. Most scholarships do not require a separate application. Merit programs, including scholarship programs, help students who have special abilities. Often, you do not have to show financial need to receive money through merit-based programs. Merit aid is frequently renewed every year as long as a student maintains a certain GPA.
College scholarships are out there waiting for you to find them. So take the time to look for yours. College scholarships are available as a result of taxes and donations given by corporations, private companies as well as many religious and educational associations. A lot of companies like to donate money because this way they can get their taxes reduced. College Scholarships are a form of financial aid and large colleges and universities can become more of a possibility just by applying for a college scholarship in many different areas, subjects, and interests.
Too often families only encourage their children to apply to state universities because they feel that everything else is unaffordable. White private schools are usually more expensive, they often provide financial aid and scholarships that can sometimes make attending them cost less than public schools. Educational consultants are a great resource for helping you find schools that are generous with their financial aid and non-need based aid. You can find a qualified educational consultant in your state by going to www.hecaonline.org.
Paying for a college education with loans and scholarships is well worth the investment. Experts say that college graduates will earn over twice as much money in their lifetime as high school graduates. Search for college scholarships that are right for you, apply for financial aid, and look into low interest loans so that going to college will not just be a dream, but a reality.