All help is good help, right? If you are considering the steep price of college, you are probably eager to receive any and all financial aid that is offered to you. It’s important to be aware of the different kinds of aid and what that is going to mean for you in the long run. Here is a description of the different kinds of financial aid that you may have available. Knowing the pros and cons of these different types of help can help you make the best choice for you!
We’ll start with the cream of the financial aid crop! Grants really are free money because you don’t have to pay them back. Some are based on student need. If you are part of minority people group or have unique challenges facing you as you seek a higher education, you may qualify for a grant. If you are coming from a situation with a lack of resources, you’ll be more likely to qualify for grants. Grants can be given by federal and state governments, as well as institutions. And don’t forget about the merit-based grants.
Pell Grants: These federal grants are given to undergraduate students with high financial need. All eligible students can receive Pell Grants, and money is given based on each individual’s need and the cost of the college they attend.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG): If you qualify for this grant, chances are you have an exceptional financial need. The financial aid office of participating schools handles these directly. These are given on a first-come-first-served basis.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants: You may qualify for this grant if your parent or guardian passed away while on active duty, serving in the Iraq or Afghanistan war.
Grants are free money, which is a no-brainer!
Someone else gets to feel good about helping you get ahead in life!
Competition is fierce for most of these grants, and funds are limited. Your likelihood of getting a grant is less than other forms of financial aid.
Some grants require that you maintain a certain GPA to qualify.
Scholarships are also free money going toward your education. These are awarded by private organizations or institutions that want to support the higher education of a specific demographic. There might be scholarships awarded based on merit, pursuing a specific major, going to a specific school, or based on an individual’s unique situation. Most scholarships require the applicant to write an essay or demonstrate the qualities being highlighted by the benefactor.
Athletic Scholarships: Student-athletes may receive a scholarship as an incentive to join their sports team. Maintaining a certain GPA, along with other requirements are expected to maintain the scholarship.
Academic Scholarships: If you show excellence in a specific academic area, or are an all-around strong student, you may qualify for academic scholarships. Organizations and programs want to help foster your excellence in the academic world.
Diversity Scholarships: Many organizations want to encourage people from all walks of life to go to college. If you are a part of a diverse background or an ethnic minority group, you can apply for scholarships that are catered to your identity. As a technology company, we see firsthand the shortage of female engineering talent and the shortage of women in technology, which is why we established the Women in STEM scholarship.
Again, why would you say no to free money?!
A wide variety of scholarships being offered. Chances are you can find a couple that caters to the specific ways you stand out from the crowd.
There’s no limit to how many you can apply for!
No one is going to knock on your door with a giant check. You’re going to have to work to get this money, with research, writing essays, and meeting the expectation of the application.
Many scholarships have requirements that you maintain a certain GPA or fulfill the expectations of the organization giving you the money.
Chances are that you’ll be expected to pay for most of your college education in some way. But there’s good news. You probably won’t be asked to pay for all of it up front. You can utilize loans to help defer the cost until you have that job that’s waiting for you after you graduate! If you have a greater financial need, you may qualify for a federal loan, which may have better terms than other loans. They are funded with government money and don’t require a credit check.
Perkins Loans: These are the most desirable types of loans as they have a fixed interest rate of 5%. These loans are also subsidized, meaning that you won’t have to start paying that five percent interest rate until after you graduate. You have to demonstrate a higher financial need in order to qualify for these loans.
Stafford Loans: Anyone can qualify for these loans, and payments can be deferred until a few months after you graduate, just like Perkins Loans. However, these loans have a slightly higher interest rate, around 6.8%. These loans may be subsidized like Perkins loans, meaning that you won’t be responsible for paying interest during your years in college. However, if you have less financial need, the Stafford Loan you are offered may be unsubsidized.
PLUS Loans: If you are a graduate or professional student or a parent of a dependent undergraduate student, you may be eligible for a PLUS loan. While other student loans must only go towards tuition and school costs, the money from PLUS Loans can be used to help cover other expenses.
It’s much easier to qualify for a loan. Many people are willing to lend you money, especially as a student.
No pressure to pay for things up front. You don’t have to pay the loan principal back while you’re a student.
These are some of the best loans out there, with lower than average interest rates.
Starting off your adult life with debt is less than ideal.
You are financially responsible for the cost of your education.
Federal Loans may help bridge the gap for some of your cost, but that might not be enough. If you need additional help, you may consider a private loan from a bank or other lender. Separate from the eligibility requirements on the FAFSA, your eligibility will depend on your credit score. As these loans typically have higher interest rates, getting additional loans should be seen as a last resort.
These loans can help you with a wider variety of the costs that may go into your college years.
You don’t have to meet the same requirements for financial need or be from a specific minority group in order to receive these types of loans.
You’ll have to demonstrate that you have good credit or provide collateral to receive a private loan.
It’s likely that the interest you pay on your loan will be higher than federally funded loans.
Debt is kind of the worst.
Some financial aid can be beneficial to more than just you. A work study program connects you to federally funded jobs. Often on campus or at approved locations, you can help cover some of the cost of your tuition in exchange for some good old fashioned manual labor. Each university or college handles these programs differently, but this might be something to look into.
Dining Center: A portion of the positions needed to run the campus dining center might be designated for work study programs. This is also a good way to work shifts that accommodate your class schedule.
Athletic Departments: Do you have an abundance of team spirit for your university’s sports teams? Perhaps you can work at the concessions or clean up the arena for your work study program! Some universities also have paid marketing internships to help advertise your school’s athletic teams and events.
Residence Halls: There are a lot of components that go into helping residence halls run smoothly on campus. Some work study programs may extend to these different aspects of on-campus life, from maintenance and custodial tasks to becoming a resident assistant.
There is an undeniable satisfaction in working for the money you’re receiving.
Working on campus is a great way to network, build your resume, and build lasting friendships!
This will add another layer of responsibility and time management to your life as a student.
The pay for work study programs can vary widely, and some may not pay enough to make a big difference in the overall cost of your degree.
The road to getting a college degree can be challenging for many people, but there are specific demographics that face unique challenges. Financial aid is focused on helping support everyone’s right to a higher education. There are a wide variety of grants, scholarships, and other financial aid that is set aside for people to whom college is not a given.
Historically, the campuses of higher education were mostly filled with caucasian men of privilege. While there have been efforts made to bridge the gap for all people to access higher education, the statistics still show that getting a college degree is not simple for different minority groups within our country. While these systemic issues are not fixed overnight, there are efforts being made, both by organizations and initiatives at the federal level to help increase the opportunities for minority students to go to college.
Don’t let language barriers get in the way of getting financial aid! The office of student aid offers a completely Spanish version of the FAFSA on their website, as well as articles written in Spanish to offer advice and support for the college application process.
Lots of universities see the immense value of diversity and offer scholarships for minority students who choose their school. Look here for Universities.com’s guide to the most diverse schools in the U.S.
Many private organizations, such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and Southwest Airlines offer scholarships specifically for minority students.
Students with Disabilities
If you live with a disability of some kind, you are accustomed to overcoming challenges on a daily basis. Seeking a college education is no different! As you research the programs you are interested in, and the schools you may attend, you’ll want to look into the resources available to you to accomplish your goals. Financial aid is available to you to help make this happen!
There are specific grants and scholarships available to help make college possible for students with a variety of disabilities, such as the Foundation for Science and Disability Science Student Grant Fund or the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship.
Starting at the age of 18, you may qualify for Social Security Income or a Plan for Achieving Self Support. A PASS allows someone with a disability to set aside income and resources towards a specific vocational goal (such as college tuition) and still receive SSI payments. However, be aware that earnings from employment may affect SSI benefits. To learn more about these programs, visit https://www.ssa.gov/disability/.
If you have served in the military, or are currently on active duty in some capacity, you have access to a lot of resources to help you pay for college. There have been several initiatives to help hard working service members earn their degree. You should take advantage of the education benefits and resources that are available to you!
As a veteran, you have access to the GI Bill, which can go towards paying for your school. A variety of education programs through the Veterans Affair organization aids this, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, The Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty and Veterans (MGIB-AD), Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR), the Fry Scholarship, the Spouse and Dependents Education Assistance (DEA), and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program.
While in the service, you can receive Tuition Assistance--up to $4,500 a year! The money is paid to the school.
According to Military.com, there are over one thousand scholarships and grants reserved for military personnel or family members of veterans, such as the AFAS General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program, the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, or the Wings Over America Scholarships