Financing education after high school can be many things; stressful, eye-opening and time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be. It can also be a rewarding experience if you plan in advance. Your work now, will pay off later.
- Begin conversations about affordability sooner than later with your family.
- Gain an understanding of total costs (use Net Price Calculators found on every college/university financial aid page).
- Research sources of aid.
- Utilize Naviance scholarship lists and matches.
- Plan backward to meet deadlines.
- Apply! Keep Applying!
Types of Aid:
Federal Aid (Complete the FAFSA as early as October 1st of your senior year).
- By filing the FAFSA, your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is determined. EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength based on a legal formula. The EFC is not the amount your family is expected to pay. It is an amount used by your college/university to determine how much aid you are eligible to receive.
- The federal government may award support in the form of Pell grants and work-study. These awards are based on financial need determined by the federal government. You must complete the FAFSA in order to determine need. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and can be found at the Federal Student Aid website.
- Most colleges/universities have grants and/or scholarship dollars that are awarded to students upon application to the institution. These awards can be based on merit (academic profile) or financial need and often have early deadlines and other requirements.
- Some private colleges/universities, in addition to the FAFSA, require you to complete the CSS Profile, which is available October 1st of your senior year. The CSS Profile application can be found at the College Board CSS webpage.
- Also check the school’s financial aid website for additional scholarships that may require a separate application.
- Grants are dollars that don’t require any type of repayment. Grants can be funded by the federal government, state governments and colleges and universities, but may also come from corporations, institutions and foundations.
Pell Grant eligibility and awards are determined by the data you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you don’t plan to borrow money, file the FAFSA to see what grant aid you may qualify for.
- Scholarships are often awarded based on merit and vary in terms of the amount awarded, due dates and application requirements. Academic scholarships are most often considered merit-based scholarships. Private scholarships are awarded by a variety of organizations. Check your employer, local banks, foundations and community organizations that you may belong to.
- Outside of academics, some athletes may be awarded full or partial athletic scholarships to help defray the costs of attendance.
Student & Parent Loans
- If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered both student and parent loans as part of your financial aid package. Both student and parent loans are aid that must be paid back with interest over time following the completion on the degree or at the time you are no longer an active student. Loans are funded by local financial institutions, the federal government or private lenders. Federal student (Guaranteed Student Loans) and parent (PLUS loans) generally offer lower interest rates.
Below is a basic formula for determining your financial need. Once you know the full cost of attendance and your family’s EFC, you can determine your level of eligibility. The eligibility amount is what the college will try to help you meet by way of family contribution, scholarship, grants and loans.