The headline costs of obtaining an undergraduate degree soar each year. Without financial help many aspiring students would simply be denied the opportunity of studying. There is genuine worry amongst many families that the costs of obtaining a degree will result in such high student loan debt upon graduation that it could outweigh the benefits of a college education. In fact there are many sources of financial help available to aspiring undergraduates.
The federal government and colleges across the nation share the view that the student and their family should contribute towards the costs of a degree. The level of contribution is determined by family income and other factors which must be disclosed on the FAFSA application. The difference between the costs of attending college and the expected family contribution equates to the level of financial need the student requires. Often students use federal or private loans to bridge this gap but there are other sources of financial help which are under utilized.
There are many individual colleges which offer generous financial aid to students with determined financial need. Many students fail to consider applying for some of the top colleges simply because of their headline costs. However some of the most expensive colleges are the least expensive to attend due to their needs blind admissions policies and top notch institutional aid.
There is a shift towards needs based aid replacing merit based aid, which has been spearheaded by the Ivy League colleges. Exceptional students from families with low incomes can apply for colleges which have replaced the need for student loans with institutional aid.
Individual states offer grants to students which are often weighted towards need. Students should research all available state grants which they may be entitled to, which range from additional support in the amount of hundreds of dollars, through to full tuition. Some states offer grants to students studying out of state too.
Scholarships and grants should not be overlooked when the student seeks financial help. There are online scholarship searches available and students can gather more information directly from individual colleges and state departments of education. Scholarships are available from a myriad of sources such independent trusts, employers, alumni endowments and even beauty pageants. The range of scholarships includes athletic, merit, and need, right through to the bizarre.
Students may be unaware that an excellent source of financial help is interest free loans sometimes offered by foundations or states. Federal grants and low interest loans are popular options. Often assistance is available with federal loans through state programs which promise to repay federal loans, in return for students entering public service careers upon graduation, for a set period of time.
Potential employers may be willing to assist with the costs of obtaining a degree, which presents a great opportunity for students who have a specific career in mind. Some employers offer financial help to students who already have a family member employed by them.
Students who have the most chance of sourcing financial help are those who begin their search early. Early applicants for scholarships and grants may well be rewarded with valuable assistance so states and college aid should be researched early. Often financial help can be awarded on a first come first served basis, thus those who dally lose out.
Financial help for obtaining an undergraduate degree is available needs locating. It is time well spent when help is awarded which makes a degree an affordable option.