Let me begin this with a fact that we can all agree on: college is expensive. With the national average of tuition plus room and board combo hovering around $35,000 per year, it’s no wonder more and more people are looking into Financial Aid to help foot the bill of a college education. Now there are three important options to consider when assessing how you’re going to tackle college tuition: grants, scholarships, and student loans. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with using a combination of the three!
We will begin with grants. Grants come in all shapes and sizes, and while scholarships are almost always academically based, grants don’t have to be. A grant is a lump sum of money given from an organization to an individual, in this case to further their academic endeavors. Some grants may require you to write an essay about how you have exemplified leadership qualities or submit a piece of writing or poetry. I have seen grants with requirements as silly as having red hair! Scholarships are also money that goes towards your education, and they are usually from governments (state or federal) and require some level of academic success (for example, getting a cumulative High School GPA above a 3.0, or exceeding on a standardized test).
Very often if you apply to a college or university, they will automatically consider you for scholarships depending on your application. However, before you apply to college (or ASAP if you’re already in college) it is important to fill out a FAFSA form. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is fundamental to fill out this form online at the website fafsa.ed.gov to give you a chance at Federal Student Aid. There are a number of reasons why you could receive Federal Aid, and it is definitely worth filling out the FAFSA. One interesting thing to remember though is that even if you are over 18, parental information is still required.