What is Financial Aid and How Can It Help Send Your Student to College?

What is Financial Aid and How Can It Help Send Your Student to College?By now the pomp and circumstance of high school and college graduations is over. Those students celebrated their achievements, and are ready to tackle a new phase in their lives. Now another student level moves up the education ladder to become the next class of high school seniors. Congratulations are certainly in order for the progress you have made so far, but you and your parents still have a lot of work to complete over the summer and into the fall as you begin the march toward your own graduation.

As you start to work your way through the college application process, one thing you will realize very quickly is that college costs a lot of money! On first glance, you might be shocked to see how much it costs to cover tuition, room and board, books, lab fees and other expenses. And that doesn’t really include your regular expenses like travel between campus and home, cell phone and data plans, personal expenses, and a little bit of entertainment. You might start to hyperventilate because you think you just don’t have enough money in the bank to cover all of this – but take a deep breath and calm down, because now is the time when you need to start learning about the exciting world of financial aid.

Financial aid is money that is made available through a number of different resources that will help you find a way to pay for college. Some of this aid comes from the federal government, some from your state, and some from the college you will be attending. There are also a number of private and corporate resources that make money available to aspiring college students who meet certain qualifications. As you start working your way through the college selection process, you will need to learn these terms so you will understand their impact on your own financial situation:

• Grant: A grant is a block of money that is given to a student for the purpose of obtaining a higher education. Most grants are need-based and do not have to be repaid unless the student fails to meet certain criteria, such as not completing a semester. Grants can come from a variety of sources, but the most well-known of these is probably the Pell Grant from the federal government. These grants are made available through participating colleges to students with financial need. Other federal grants include Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

• Scholarship: Similar to a grant, a scholarship is an amount of money that does not normally have to be repaid as long as the student continues to meet certain criteria. The difference here is that a scholarship is usually merit-based, although a few are awarded by businesses on a random basis. Start doing your scholarship research early in the junior to senior years of high school, and continue on through college.

• Loan: Loans refer to money that is borrowed and will need to be repaid. The most well-known of these are federal student loans, but many banks and financial institutions also make private student loans available. Be very sure to carefully compare loan details, and don’t borrow more than you really need. Too many families borrow the maximum available amount, which can create financial turmoil for the student and his/her parents after graduation.

• Work-Study: The Federal Work-Study program allows students to work for a certain period of time to earn money towards college expenses. Not all colleges participate in this program.

Once every form of financial aid is taken into consideration, families often learn that the cost of a college education is actually within their monetary capabilities. While some colleges might still be out of financial reach, it is usually possible to find a quality school that meets the family’s budget. Be aware that every form of financial aid comes with some type of deadline. The first step in the financial aid application process is to file the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1.

12 Comments
  • It Is Not Too Early to Think About Scholarships - CFAA
    Posted at 12:06h, 08 July

    […] applying for scholarships. Although some scholarships are granted by your college as part of the financial aid package, there are many others which are available that you need to search out and apply for on […]

  • Don’t Borrow More for College Than You Can Realistically Repay - CFAA
    Posted at 09:01h, 26 July

    […] Maximize Your Financial Aid: Do not make assumptions about the amount of financial aid you may or may not be able to receive. You may be able to receive support from the federal […]

  • Who Qualifies for Federal and Private Student Loans? - CFAA
    Posted at 06:01h, 27 August

    […] is an interesting time of year. New high school seniors are learning about financial aid and getting ready to file the FAFSA as soon as possible after it becomes available online October […]

  • Key Completion Steps for the 2020-21 FAFSA - CFAA
    Posted at 09:01h, 16 September

    […] 2019. Anyone who will be attending college in the fall of 2020 who would like to be considered for financial aid will probably be required to file the FAFSA as the first step in that process. Please, though, read […]

  • KEY COMPLETION STEPS FOR THE 2020-21 FAFSA – Believe Fine Arts, Inc.
    Posted at 14:00h, 26 September

    […] 2019. Anyone who will be attending college in the fall of 2020 who would like to be considered for financial aid will probably be required to file the FAFSA as the first step in that process. Please, though, […]

  • Should College Grads Consolidate Student Loans? - CFAA
    Posted at 12:17h, 18 November

    […] stressing time for young adults. High school seniors are racing to file the FAFSA, or waiting for financial aid decisions from their prospective colleges. This year’s college graduates, on the other hand, are […]

  • Start Applying for Scholarships Now - CFAA
    Posted at 07:42h, 29 June

    […] negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 crisis dragging on and on, college financial aid is the new “hot topic.” Excited students and their anxious parents now want to get as much […]

  • College Financial Aid and COVID-19 - CFAA
    Posted at 10:40h, 03 July

    […] to afford to attend college at all. Since so many answers rely wholly on whether or not sufficient financial aid will be available, it is imperative that students keep updated on this topic in general and at […]

  • How Much Can You Really Afford to Spend on College? - CFAA
    Posted at 14:54h, 08 July

    […] and ask if there are any tuition discounts for the coming year, or if there is any additional college financial aid […]

  • Know the Differences Between Federal and Private Student Loans - CFAA
    Posted at 13:34h, 29 July

    […] this fall should have their financial situation pretty much in focus. You should know what your financial aid package is, and should have contacted the financial aid office if your situation has changed due to […]

  • What Type of Work Should Your Child Do During the College Years? - CFAA
    Posted at 11:44h, 06 August

    […] and students can pay for college. In most cases, they were able to rely on a combination of financial aid, student loans, savings, and scholarships to cover the basic costs. If those funds were not […]

  • Info You Will Need to Fly Through the FAFSA - CFAA
    Posted at 05:45h, 26 August

    […] COVID crisis has made many families keenly aware of the importance of financial aid in providing funds to help cover college costs. For new high school seniors the first step in […]