A college education is a great way to prepare for your future. But it can be expensive. So it is important to make sure that you get your fair share of the billions of dollars of student financial aid granted to US students every year. There are different forms and sources of student financial aid, so talk to the Financial Aid Officer at your intended college to make sure you don’t miss out.
Applying For Financial Aid – What Is Available
These fall into three main categories – grants and scholarships (which do not have to be repaid) and loans (which do).
Federal Pell Grants
Pell Grants are the foundation of federal student financial aid. Other grants and loans are often grafted onto a Pell Grant. You are generally eligible for these grants if
- You have a high school diploma
- Are a US citizen (or eligible noncitizen)
- Can show you need the money for your education
- Are enrolling on an eligible undergraduate program.
The eligibility conditions can be complex, so you need to check them out carefully. If you have exceptional financial need, you may qualify for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). There are also National Competitiveness Awards and SMART grants if you are very able or studying certain subjects.
Loans are usually awarded on top of a Pell Grant. This type of student financial aid is either lent to you directly (Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans) or to your parents (PLUS Loans). All these loans have to be repaid and carry interest.
A great form of student financial aid if you can win one. Ask your college if they have any scholarship funds relevant to you. Sports, music, special majors, or your home state are just some areas that might merit a scholarship.