Can I Afford to Go to College?
Fri Nov 08 2013 05:08:29 GMT-0800 (PST)

Prospective students have a variety of options available to help pay for college and offset the other costs associated with going back to school like books, housing, meals, etc. Before you choose a college, take your time looking over the many options available for financial assistance so that you can choose the best options for your situation.

What are My Options to Pay for College?

Financial assistance comes in many forms. Some options for financial aid will need to be repaid in increments after you have graduated from college while others will not have to be paid back but instead are offered as a gift. Financial aid can make it possible for you to go to college even if you don’t have the funds available to pay all of your expenses right away. You may also be able to select a college that you thought you couldn’t afford by utilizing all of your financial options.

Over $185 billion in financial aid is available to students each year and is offered from various sources including the federal and state governments, colleges and universities, and private or non-profit organizations. It is imperative that you explore all of your financial aid options because you will only be eligible for aid if you apply.

Begin your financial aid applications with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. By filling out the FAFSA, you will be able to determine if you are eligible for scholarship, grants, work-study jobs, and loans provided by the federal government. The FAFSA may also qualify you for financial aid from state governments as well as the federal government so be sure to fill out and submit the proper forms even if you think you may not qualify.

Scholarships & Grants

In addition to federal student aid, you may also be eligible for scholarships and grants offered outside of the federal government. Many organizations offer a variety of scholarships to students that meet their criteria, so make sure to find out about all scholarship opportunities by contacting your college or university’s admissions counselor or financial aid office. Many colleges also provide scholarships to students that show a particular aptitude for their studies or excel at a sport so make sure to check into how the scholarship program works at the school that you choose to attend.

Financial Aid

Students whose household income is below a certain threshold will typically qualify for financial aid to offset the costs of tuition and possibly other costs associated with college. The federal government is the single largest provider of financial aid in the nation and provides about $150 billion per year in financial aid to help students go to college. These funds may come in the form of work-study programs, loans, grants, and scholarships. In addition to filling out the FAFSA form, you may also want to contact the Federal Student Aid office to speak to an advisor about all of the options available to you.

Student Loans

Student loans are offered by several organizations including the federal government, state governments, or private lending institutions. Student loans are required to be paid back within several years after graduation. Many loans do not require that students begin to pay it back until after graduation, which helps alleviate the need to work full time while also going to school unless other obligations require it. Student loans can be administered for the full amount of tuition plus additional costs or for the amount that the lending institution approves. It is important to talk to the financial aid office at your school to discuss loan options and to evaluate which type of loan will be best for your situation. It is possible to take out several loans to pay for your college education.

Work on Campus to Reduce Tuition Costs

Some colleges offer students the option to work on campus to reduce their tuition costs. If you are interested in this type of program, talk to your admissions counselor or financial aid office to inquire about available opportunities for students that would like to work on campus to help pay for their education.

Choose the Right School

Another factor to consider is the type of school that you will attend. For some students, going to college is free because they qualify for financial aid or scholarships from a state school while other students will pay upwards of $40,000 per year to attend a private university. Community colleges usually have the most reasonable tuition rates, so consider going to a two-year college first and then transferring to a four year college afterwards if you are concerned about tuition costs. Many state schools offer a variety of scholarship opportunities to in-state residents, and their tuition costs are sometimes (not always) lower than a private university’s tuition. If you plan to attend a private university or an ivy league school, apply for scholarships, financial aid, and your student loans as early as possible to offset the costs associated with those institutions.

To instantly connect with colleges in your area and to speak to an admissions counselor about your options, fill out the form on this page or call 1-800-863-3473.

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