Ways to Afford College

Before even securing admission to a college, university or other institute of learning, a prospective student should research the various resources available that will help to supplement tuition, books, housing, and other costs that will be incurred. 
There are several options to explore and some, all or even none may apply to your individual needs and circumstances:

Federal Student Financial Aid: Federal Student Financial Aid is aid provided by the Federal government. Students are required to fill out a FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, every enrolled year to determine the amount that will be extended to them.  Taken into account is the EFC, Expected Family Contribution.
  • Awards/Grants – Do not have to be repaid

    • Pell Grant: A maximum of $4,731is awarded through a Pell Grant, but the amount awarded can change yearly and is dependent upon available funds.  A Pell Grant is awarded based on financial need.

    • FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant): This Grant is reserved for graduates with exceptional financial need and who qualify for a Pell Grant.  Students who have the lowest EFC are considered first for an FSEOG. Students receive between $100 and $4000 a year.

    • The SMART Grant (The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant): This is available to undergraduates during their 3rd and 4th years.  These grants are reserved for students who qualify for a Pell Grant and who will major in physical, life or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security.  A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in your coursework is required.  Up to $4,000 for each of your 3rd and 4th years of enrollment is available.

    • Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG): These grants are issued in addition to a Pell Grant.  Students can qualify for up to $750 for their first year of enrollment and up to $1300 for their second year of enrollment.  Eligible students must have completed a rigorous HS program and a specific grade point average must be maintained.   

    • Federal Work Study and Part-Time Employment: Students may use part-time employment to help finance the cost of their education.  Career Service Departments at individual schools will often help a student to procure a part-time job.
Loans: Loans must be repaid, but they can be consolidated into one single debt.  The FFELP (Federal Family Education Loan Program) allows private organizations, such as nonprofit agencies and commercial lenders, to offer federally funded Stafford loans and PLUS loans.  The FDLP (Federal Direct Loan Program) allows the US Department of Education to act as a lender of federal Stafford loans and Plus loans.
  • Federal Stafford Loans: No payments are expected while a student is enrolled and payments are further deferred for 6 months after graduation. There are two types of Stafford loans:

    •  Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you are enrolled.  Interest will become your responsibility after deferment has expired.

    • Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while you are enrolled.  The interest accrued is added to your principle loan amount once deferment has expired.

  • Federal PLUS loans: Offered to parents of enrolled undergraduate students and also to graduate and professional students.  Payments commence immediately and are set at a relatively high interest rate.  A Federal PLUS loan can be borrowed in the amount needed to finance the entire cost of education and does require credit worthiness.

  • Private Loans can be acquired through your bank, for example, but have no affiliation with Federal Financial Aid. 
Scholarships: Schoalrships are funded by many instructional, community, private and local agencies and fall into the following categories:
  • Merit-based Scholarships are awarded based on requirements set-forth by the organization awarding the scholarship, such as academic or athletic excellence.  The National Merit Scholarship Program and The National Achievement Scholarship Program are examples of merit-based scholarships.

  • Need-based Scholarships take financial circumstances into consideration.
Payment Plans are offered at many colleges, universities and other institutes of learning.  This is a very individualized offering and should be researched specifically at the college, university or other institute of your choice.

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