Your Ultimate Guide to Financial Aid for College Students

financial-aid-for-college-studentsGoing to college is expensive. Four-year degree courses come with a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on which college you plan to attend, where you’ll live, and your college major, the cost of getting a degree can be even more. And that’s just for public college — private school education can jump to six-figure sums.

Financial aid for college students is an ideal way to cut the enormous cost of college. Before you think that free money to attend college is only for low-income families, think again. There are many types of financial aid available for students. Grants, scholarships, and work-study programs are just some ways to make it cheaper to attend college.

This article is a complete guide to finding financial aid for college.

Are you’re wondering how you will afford to get a degree? You will find the necessary information that you’re looking for here. You may be able to get your degree cheaper and graduate with less student debt.

Why Get Financial Aid to Attend College

Considering the cost, it makes sense to apply for financial aid to attend college. According to official figures, the average cost of college and tuition for in-state students is $25,615 per year. Taking into account student loan interest and loss of income, the final price tag for a bachelor’s degree could top $400,000.

Financial Aid for College Students

Financial aid can help pay for tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation. The two most common type of financial help for college students is federal grants and scholarships. Unlike loans, you don’t need to pay this money back. Also, federal loans or work-study programs can ease the burden of college costs.

How Does Financial Aid for Attending College Work?

The amount of financial aid college students can apply for varies from state to state. Also, the source of funding affects how much money you will get.

For example, federal grants are usually based on income. Even if you don’t think you will qualify, it’s still worth applying for federal funding. According to some estimates, around 3$ billion in federal college money goes unclaimed every year. The average amount students could receive is $4,000.

Many institutions and colleges sponsor scholarships. As soon as you decide on going to college, you should start your search for scholarships. And you don’t have to limit yourself to only one. Getting a few scholarships would be worth as much as a part-time job.

How College Students Apply for Financial Aid

The first step for college students to apply for financial aid is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges use the FAFSA to determine the amount of grant money that you qualify for. Additionally, you usually need to file the FAFSA to apply for other types of aid, such as state-sponsored grants and some scholarships.

Another way to apply for financial aid for college students is through the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS). However, only the top-end colleges require the detailed financial information students provide on the CSS Profile.

Related reading: Smart ways to pay for college.

Four Types of Financial Aid for College Students

The good news is that most college students are eligible for some type of aid. You can apply for federal, state, institutional grants, or scholarships. These can be awarded based on need or merit.

For example, if your family has a low income or limited means of paying for college, you could get free money. Merit-based financial help for students depends on your abilities, talent, or passions.

Let’s look in more detail at four types of financial help that can reduce college costs.

1. Federal grants

Federal money is free money that you don’t need to repay. Before applying for federal grants, you must complete the FAFSA. The most common type of federal grant is the Pell Grant. This awards financial aid to college students with a low or zero expected family contribution (EFC).

It’s also good to know that you can apply for federal money to finance your education if you’re a non-traditional student.

2. Scholarships

Scholarships are ideal for anyone wanting to slash the price tag of a college education. There are hundreds of scholarships available for all types of students. Free scholarship money can be income-based or merit-based. Scholarships can also be awarded based on age, gender, background, or passions. You can even apply for scholarships that have no criteria.

Related reading: Insider secrets to win top scholarships.

3. Work-study programs

Many colleges run work-study programs to assist low-income college students in paying for college. You need to qualify for the program by filing the FAFSA. Under the program, you can earn at least the federal minimum wage for working part-time on-campus jobs. You can then use your earnings toward education expenses.

4. Financial state aid for college students

Many states provide financial assistance to in-state students. Typically, you need to be a resident in the state and attend a public school in that state. To apply for state aid for college, you need to file the FAFSA. Like federal aid, state aid programs can be income-based or based on merit.

Another type of help you can receive to cover tuition and fees is through federal student loans. Of course, you need to repay any loan you get for education. However, federal loans have low, fixed-interest rates for the life of the loan. Also, you usually only have to start making loan repayments when you meet a certain income threshold. While student loans aren’t free money, they have better interest rates than private loans.

Qualifying for Financial College Aid

Keeping in mind deadlines is crucial if you want to get free money to attend college. Each college has cutoff dates for applying for financial aid. If you’re even a day late, you may miss out on thousands of dollars in college money. It’s also vital to pay attention to federal and state deadlines as these can differ from college deadlines. There are also cutoff dates for applying for scholarships.

Financial Aid for College Students: Start Applying Today

Financial aid is a fantastic way to make getting a degree affordable. Free money from grants and scholarships can lower the cost of college tuition and fees. Armed with a bachelor’s degree, you will be able to find a high-paying job and enjoy an excellent standard of living.

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