Financial Aid Planning
Get answers to your questions about paying for college.
College should be about learning and growing, not worrying about how to pay for it. Here are answers to the money questions we hear most. If you think of something else, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve actually got a lot of options, but the first step is knowing how much you’ll need. Think about direct costs like admission fees, tuition and books, plus indirect costs such as childcare. Next, look at the resources available to you: your own savings, gifts or loans from family, scholarships and your current job. If you need more funds, consider applying for financial aid or a loan.
Financial aid is money set aside by the federal government, state and some colleges and universities to help people pay for a college education. It might be a grant, a work-study program or a loan. It’s free to apply for federal aid; go to www.fafsa.gov.
Yes. The first difference is obvious: federal programs are funded at the federal level; state programs are funded through the state.
Eligibility for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Direct Student Loan and Perkins loan is determined by federal guidelines. Eligibility for state programs is determined by requirements of the state in which the program is awarded. All programs have initial eligibility requirements based largely on need.
After you receive federal or state financial aid, you will have to meet and maintain certain academic requirements. Federal requirements are consistent from one program to another, but state requirements can vary by state and sometimes by program.
Probably not. Financial aid is meant to fill the gap between the cost of college and what you can afford to pay. Unless your need is exceptional, a grant, work-study program or loan will cover only part of your expenses.
The biggest difference is that you don’t have to repay a grant. You do have to repay a loan, with interest. A grant is often the best type of financial aid and should be your first choice. Remember, though, you’ll have to stay in school and meet certain academic requirements. If you fall short or withdraw from some or all of your classes, you may have to pay your grant money back.
A loan doesn’t have any academic strings attached, but they can be costly. If this is your only option, borrow only what you need and repay it as soon as possible.
Many schools charge higher tuition to out-of-state residents, so if you pick a college outside your home state, you’ll likely pay more. Financial aid can help, but you’ll probably have to cover most of the additional costs associated with being from another state.
If you go to more than one college at the same time, you may only get federal financial aid at one of them. On the other hand, if you transfer from one college to another during the year, you may be eligible for financial aid at both colleges, as long as you apply for financial aid at each college separately.
Loans are a little different. If you have a loan and change schools, you may have to wait until your current loan period ends before you can take out another loan.
Cost of attendance (COA), is the amount a financial aid office uses to determine how much aid you may be eligible for. It’s basically an allowance based on your tuition, fees, books, travel, loan fees and miscellaneous costs. The amount of financial aid you receive cannot be more than your COA.