Want to go to college, but need help paying for it?
Relax, there is financial aid available. Nationally, two-thirds of undergraduate college students receive financial aid. College expenses can be daunting for ALL students, regardless of their family’s income. Financial aid is money provided to help students pay for their college costs.
There are four basic categories of aid:
GRANTS are gifts of “free” money that do not have to be repaid and are provided to students to help pay for their education. The most common student grant is the Federal Pell Grant, which provides up to $4731 annually for the 2008-09 award year towards college expenses for needy students. Additionally, needy students attending college here in Alaska may qualify for the AlaskAdvantage Education Grant, with awards up to $2000 per year. Needy students who completed a qualifying rigorous academic program in high school may qualify for an additional federal Academic Competitiveness Grant, above and beyond their Pell Grants. Generally, grants are awarded on the student’s level of financial need, identified by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
LOANSfor college costs are money that must be repaid. Loans represent a major source of assistance you should consider as you try to meet the full costs of your education. Educational loans, such as the Stafford Loan, generally have long-term repayment schedules, offer low interest rates, often have provisions for deferring payments and may offer additional benefits related to financial need.
SCHOLARSHIPS are gifts of “free” money that do not have to be repaid for students to help pay for their education. Many universities, businesses, and clubs or associations offer scholarships. Students must apply for scholarships, and can contact their high school advisor and/or their future University’s financial aid office to learn about scholarship opportunities. Students will typically be selected for the scholarship by a committee, and the committee’s selection will most commonly be based on talent or an achievement by the student. Scholarships may be for a single payment, such as a single scholarship for $500, or they can be for multiple payments, such as $500 per year and available for up to four years.
FEDERAL WORK STUDYprograms allow students to work and earn an hourly wage to use towards their college expenses. Federal Work Study is considered a part of a student’s financial aid, and is a useful way to minimize how much a student borrows in loans.