1. Know Your Financial Aid Resources

2. Apply for Financial Aid

3. Get Help

Know Your Financial Aid Resources

Financial aid comes from a variety of sources, including:

  • Colleges and universities
  • State and government agencies
  • Federal government (Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, Work Study Programs, Stafford Loans)
  • Businesses and corporations
  • Donors and other organizations and groups
There are four basic types of financial aid available to college students.

Scholarships--Scholarships cover educational costs and are often given to students who have excelled in high school or who have special talents. There are many private scholarships available.

    Benefits: Scholarships do not have to be repaid.

    Concerns: Scholarships don't always cover the entire cost of your education. Also, while very rewarding, applying for private scholarships can take a lot of time and research--so start early!

Grants--Grants are generally given to students based on need alone.
    Benefits: Grants do not have to be repaid.

    Concerns: Grants can be difficult to obtain for families who fall just above the need requirement.

Student Employment--Develop good work skills while in high school. If you need to get a job to help finance your way through college, the more skills you have, the better job you may be able to find.
    Benefits: You gain work experience and help pay for your education.

    Concerns: It can be difficult to work and maintain good grades while in college, You may need to lighten you course load in order to manage your time more effectively. In addition, student employment may not entirely fund you education.

Loans--Most student loans are low-interest and provide a grace period after college graduation to begin repayment. Be sure only to borrow what you need.
    Benefits: Loans help to pay for your education and you often don't have to begin repayment until after you graduate.

    Concerns: Because of the interest rate, you end up paying more for your education than the actual cost of going to school. Depending on your career goals, you could acquire a hefty debt by the time you graduate.

Cash and Savings--If you plan to use savings to finance your education, then invest your money and start saving now. If possible, set aside a specific amount of money each month as soon as possible. Many high school students get a part-time job to start saving for college.
    Benefits: Your savings will finance all or part of your education, freeing you to concentrate on your studies.

    Concerns: Unless you and your family have been saving for years, you will probably need to supplement your savings with scholarships or loans.

Other--Keep your eyes open for alternate ways to pay for college. For instance, the military and certain volunteer organizations will finance part or all of your education in exchange for service.
    Benefits: You earn money for college while gaining important life experience.

    Concerns: You have to determine how much of your time you're willing to contribute. You may also have to postpone going to college for a certain length of time to work or participate in training.

Next: Apply for Financial Aid

Take the First Step | Plan in Middle School | Plan in High School
Choose a College | Get Accepted | Obtain Financial Aid |
Communicate | Survive Freshman Year |
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