Too many students are denied their chance to go to college simply because they can't afford the rising costs of higher education. Unfortunately, many students and parents do not know that more than $35 billion in financial aid is available each year, or mistakenly assume they do not qualify. This brochure suggests steps students and parents can take to secure the financial help they need.
What Types of Aid Are Available?
Aid helps bridge the gap between what students and parents can afford and what education actually costs. Usually, a combination of grants, loans, and family funds are necessary to cover the total cost of a college education. Some major types of financial assistance are:
- Grants and scholarships --the best kinds of aid because they do not have to be repaid. Sources include the federal government, states, colleges, and private organizations. Most scholarships or fellowships have conditions of qualification and fulfillment.
How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for Financial Aid?
Most students qualify for some kind of financial assistance. In general, you need to:
- Demonstrate financial need (or merit for some scholarships).
Most financial aid is awarded for a specific period, usually a semester or an academic year. Students and parents need to be alert to the qualifications and deadlines for applying and reapplying.
How Can I Begin Searching for Financial Aid?
Students and parents who plan to seek student financial aid should keep the following tips in mind:
- Learn about financial aid. Students who understand the details of financial aid and the application process reap the most benefits.
Family need will be determined by a federal formula that considers this information as well as tuition and other costs. All applicants for federal aid must complete a need analysis form, and some colleges also require that students submit some type of financial aid form. These forms cannot be submitted before January 1 or after May 1, and it is best to submit them as soon after January 1 as possible. The sooner you apply, the better chance you have of being considered for aid with early award dates. Always contact the financial aid administrator at each school to verify specific deadline dates.
Where Can I Get More Information and Guidance?
The following individuals and organizations are good sources of information and advice about financial aid:
- High school counselors can help you research sources of aid and complete college application and financial aid forms.
Where Can I Find Out More about Student Financial Aid?
Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044-0084
National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, Inc.
801 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Suite 375
Washington, DC 20003
The College Board. 1996. College Costs and Financial Aid Handbook. 16th Edition. New York: The College Scholarship Service.
Leider, Robert and Ann. 1995. Don't Miss Out: The Ambitious Student's Guide to Financial Aid. 20th Edition. Alexandria, VA: Octameron Associates.
Peterson Guides. Less for College 1996: The Complete Guide to $36 Billion in Financial Aid. 13th Edition. Princeton, NJ: Peterson Guides.
U.S. Department of Education. 1996. Preparing Your Child For College: A Resource Book for Parents. 1996-97 Edition. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
U.S. Department of Education. Office of Postsecondary Education. 1995. Your Education 1996-1997. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
U.S. Department of Education. Student Financial Assistance Programs. 1995. Student Guide 1996-97: Financial Aid from the Department of Education. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
This publication was prepared by ACCESS ERIC with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under Contract No. RR92024001. The opinions expressed in this brochure do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education.
Category: Personal Finance