Financial aid plays a vital role in helping young adults pay for their higher education. But navigating it can be overwhelming. With so many options out there, how do you know which type of aid is best for you?
Let’s delve into four types of college financial aid that students should know about:
- Work-study programs
Understanding each of them can help you make an informed decision about how to finance your education to achieve your academic and career goals.
Scholarships are awards that students can qualify for to offset educational costs. Unlike loans, you don’t have to worry about repaying them. Government agencies, organizations, and schools award them based on merits, such as academic achievement or athletic ability. Some scholarships are contingent on financial needs or other criteria.
Generally, students must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify. These may include:
- Demonstrating financial need
- Maintaining a minimum GPA
- Enrolling in a specific program of study
The application process varies depending on the scholarship. But you can expect to fill out an application form and provide requested materials including but not limited to:
- Letters of recommendation
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Like scholarships, grants are awards you don’t owe back with interest. Non-profit organizations, government agencies, and foundations give out grants to support specific causes or fields of study. Students can use grant money to pay for various school expenses like tuition, books, and housing.
Ready to start applying for grants? The first step is filling out and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The state and federal governments use your information to determine your financial need and eligibility for grants and other aid. Even if you don’t think you qualify for anything, there’s no harm in submitting the form anyway. Who knows? You may qualify for grants you didn’t think you would.
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- Work-Study Programs
Work-study jobs are part-time employment opportunities available to students demonstrating financial need. They’re usually on-campus and may relate to your field of study. But they can also be in other areas like administrative support or customer service. The purpose of work-study jobs is to give students a way to earn money to pay for their education while gaining valuable work experience.
To qualify for a work-study program, you must complete the FAFSA online. Your school will then determine the amount of work-study funds you’re eligible to receive. From there, you can apply these funds to your tuition or other education-related expenses.
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Loans aren’t ideal sources of financial aid because you must repay them with interest. This can bring up the cost of your education over time. But they’re available if scholarships, grants, and work-study programs aren’t enough.
There are two student loan categories: federal and private. The government funds federal loans with fixed interest rates and repayment terms. Students enrolled in an accredited institution may be eligible for a federal loan. In contrast, banks and lenders offer private loans. These loans may have variable interest rates and repayment terms.
When shopping for student loans, review the terms and conditions and try to only borrow what is necessary. Some loans require you to start making payments while you’re still in school or right after you graduate.
Apply for Student Financial Aid to Graduate with Less Debt
Countless college students miss out on free aid because don’t even bother applying for it. But the truth is, it’s free to do—which means you have nothing to lose. It’s worth the effort to potentially save thousands of dollars on your education. And with so much aid out there, you’re bound to qualify for something.
With the right financial aid plan, you can focus on your studies and make the most of your college experience. So, what are you waiting for? Apply for student financial aid today to make your financial future brighter!