Finding financial aid for college is one of the most important, but also most difficult tasks for parents and students as they go through the process of applying for higher education. To learn where to obtain college funding, it’s very important to look at each of the programs offered by the various players in the financial aid arena. Each player has advantages and disadvantages, and most people will want to consider more than one source of funding.
In this post, we’ll examine those sources of funding and you’ll leave with a better understanding of where to look.
Government Sources of College Funding
College financial aid comes from either private or public sources. The most common type of financial aid is called FAFSA. This stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” This is administered under the Department of Education. It is available to most students, and can pay for all or most of your college expenses.
Another advantage to using FAFSA is that colleges are used to most students receiving money this way. Their offices are also well connected with the agency running this program. What that means for you, as a student, is that your college will likely have no trouble deferring tuition or even book expenses until your check arrives. This can be useful to a student low on cash and in need of school materials. Although not always advised, money may even be available through this program to help you cover living expenses. These are known as disbursement checks, and are issued once a semester.
Some of this money will need to be paid back, while other government money may be in the form of grants. Some of these are called Pell Grants, and are usually only available to students who have completed a certain number of credits.
Private Sources of College Funding
Numerous businesses, fraternal organizations and religious institutions offer scholarships or loans to students. These are quite often given to local students, so be sure to check out opportunities in your area. It’s always a plus to be active in your community as you apply to college. This provides you another reason to do so. If you have been active in a church or civic organization that offers money to students, you are more likely to be awarded the financial help.
Grants and Scholarships vs. Loans
As you research sources of college funding, you will notice there are loans, grants, and scholarships available. The best of these are grants and scholarships, as they do not need to be repaid. But, college is well worth taking whatever loans you need. If you are awarded loans, make sure to keep on a regular schedule paying them back after college. In addition, be aware that many scholarships are primarily awarded to first-year students, and many grants are available only to students who are in the midst of their college career.
No mater what college you are attending, or if you will be using private or public sources of aid, it’s a great idea to apply early. Make sure that you submit your applications as early in the process as you can!
Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way. Visit http://www.applykit.com for a free account today!