Paying for College

Important Facts About Paying for College Every Student Should Know

Paying for college can seem like a daunting task, especially for those who realize they do not have the funds to handle the payments on their own. Numerous resources are available to help students heading to college pay for their tuition. With financial aid and scholarships available, money should never be a reason why people forgo an education.

The Costs Of College

Many students search for schools located in their ideal locations when applying to colleges. They want to find an institution that offers the best programs in their choice field of study. While these are important features to consider, so is the cost. Each college offers its own price ranges with local options for in-state residents being the cheapest. Students heading out of state will be paying a much higher price. National averages in the 2013-2014 school year indicated that $7,167 was the expected amount to pay at the lower priced institutions. This average amount only continues to grow each year.

The average prices only include 4 year public colleges that are reasonably priced. Students looking to attend well-known universities, such as Yale, can expect to pay upwards of $45,000.

Lowering Prices With Financial Aid

The costs of college do not have to be so expensive. Applying for financial aid helps lower the net prices of tuition a great deal. Even when attending Harvard, those who make below $65,000 a year may be eligible to receive a full financial aid package that covers the entire cost of their tuition. It all depends on the amount of applications students manage to fill out.

Types Of Aid To Consider

One type of aid is not all that is available. Countless options are out there for those who need help making their payments. Grants, scholarships, loans, and additional outside awards are all possibilities.

FAFSA

The FAFSA is a free form that every student should complete. It is filled out online and can be sent to each college where an application was submitted. This allows the college to see what each individual's financial background looks like, and determine how much aid will be applied to the total cost owed.

Scholarships

Scholarship money is available to those who earn it. It is awarded directly from the college. This money does not have to be paid back either, making it one of the most valuable types of aid to receive. Each scholarship program lists a set of requirements that students must meet to be awarded the money. There is usually one person who earns the scholarship based on their merit. Earning good grades and having high test scores are just a couple of possible requirements these programs have.

Outside Awards

Numerous outside awards can be won to help pay for tuition costs. These are additional scholarships awarded from an outside source, rather than directly from the school.

Grants

Grants are similar to scholarships, although they are typically based on need only. Scholarships are usually merit-based. Grants also do not have to be paid back. Many non-profit organizations and even state governments offer grants to students. They are offer on a first-come basis and should be applied for early.

Loans

Finding a loan is often easy enough, but many like to avoid this until all other options have been applied. Unlike grants, scholarships, and other awards, loans do have to be paid back at some point. It will allow students to pay for their education now, but the money often has to be paid back immediately following graduation.

Part-Time Students Also Qualify For Aid

Many believe that only full-time students get to receive financial aid. This is actually not the case. Part-time students attending college can receive aid as well. There is typically a minimum requirement that must be met, such as completing a set number of credit hours each semester.

Financial Aid For Undocumented Students

Undocumented students often believe that going to college is not a possibility. They also think that financial aid would never be given to them. With additional forms filled out, many colleges will still accept undocumented students. They will typically treat them as an international student. This can make tuition prices higher, but they can still apply to financial aid to help cut costs.

Each College Has Their Own Financial Aid Expectations

Students applying to several colleges need to be sure to check out the financial aid information for each. Each college has their own financial aid expectations and method for applying scholarships and outside money. Typically, the FAFSA is the first piece of information needed. From there, scholarship money and outside awards will be applied to the total cost. Some colleges even require students to have a job and log their hours to help pay for expenses.

There are also certain requirements that must be met in order to continue to receive financial aid. This includes maintaining a high GPA, completing a certain number of credit hours, and not dropping classes. Checking every financial aid page will help students understand what each college expects in terms of aid usage and requirements.

New Year, New FAFSA

Filling out one FAFSA form will not provide financial aid for the entire college experience. Students must reapply and fill out a new form each year they hope to attend. Failing to reapply will result in a loss of aid and may mean not being able to pay for a year's worth of tuition until the new form is filled out and accepted. Reapplying each year has been made easier thanks to the Renewal FAFSA form that saves the previous year's data and applies it to the new application.

Changing college plans because of money should never be an option. Students looking to continue their education can do so with the help of financial aid packages. Numerous options are available to ensure each student receives some form of financial help and can attend a school that gives them the degree they desire.