Ways to Get Money for a College Education
More than half of all students in school today are receiving some form of financial aid. About 15 billion dollars in free grants are given to students each year. The most common grant is the Pell Grant. Another $15 billion is dispersed in federal student loans. In addition to these two federal forms of student aid, a wide range of private organizations provide an estimated $4.5 billion annually in grants and scholarships.
The different types of financial aid and financial planning are discussed in five categories on Money-for-School.org. Each family should start early and take plenty of time to review all money sources. Explore each of the sources of financing shown under the site navigation in the right hand column.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial Aid is money that comes from sources other than the student and the student's family to pay for school. There are many types of financial aid. Most types of financial aid the amount of the aid is based upon the family's financial need. Need money for school? There are two main categories of need-based financial aid:
- (1) Aid you will have to pay back;
- (2) Aid you will not have to pay back, aka: free money for school;
Some scholarships are not based on the financial need of the family. This kind of scholarship is known as merit based aid.
Why Financial Aid?
It is not just for the benefit of students, although that is what most people think. Society needs college grads and lawmakers and governments recognize this need as well as the prohibitive cost of a college education for most families. Most students at college today are using some type of financial aid to pay. The huge investment for a college education would easily rule out 3/4 of all students by financial reasons. A private college cost of attendance now exceeds $40,000 per year on average (including tuition, fees, room and board). Even public universities can run $20,000 per year (including tuition, fees, room and board). These numbers are simply out of reach for most people.
First Step to Get Financial Aid
Since you are looking at financial aid information, you may already know about the FAFSA form. The first step to receiving federal student aid of any kind is to fill out the FAFSA. Do not put this off because there are deadlines. The amount of student financial aid is limited, so if you miss any deadlines with the FAFSA you may put your application for aid in jeapardy. The school may pare down applicants in a number of ways, including those who filed their application too late.
If you haven't done so yet you should go to the Department of Education Website and download the FAFSA form from www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is a federal form. You will only need to fill out this main form one time and then in consecutive years there is merely a shorter update form each time. This is easy to procrastinate. Don't procrastinate. Bookmark this page and go get your FAFSA form from the DOE site. Once you are on the DOE site, it explains how to fill out the fafsa and all the info you will need to put on it. Even though it looks like a lot of stuff, just take it one step at a time and you will knock it out. Then, when you have your FAFSA papers, return here and look at the ways to find money for school on the other pages of Money-for-School.org. The next thing you will do after the FAFSA is to complete your financial aid applications for each of the schools the student is most likely to attend. But let's take this one step at a time. Go get the FAFSA now. Remember to read the Top 10 FAFSA Mistakes when you sit down to fill out the paperwork.