School on a Budget

School on a Budget - By Alicia Messer

financial aid 101

Being a student can be expensive! It’s that time of year again to prepare for school. In addition to school supplies like fresh notebooks and pencils, we have to prepare for the financial burden of receiving an education. Fortunately, there are several resources to reduce financial stress so you can focus less on working while in school and more on doing well in your classes.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

    • The free FAFSA application uses your personal information, college attendance, and family income to determine what types of government funding each applicant is eligible for. Upon completion of the application, FAFSA will notify each applicant of the resources available to him or her – including loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), grants, and federal work study. Each student must complete a new FAFSA annually in order to receive funding for multiple years.

  • Federal Work Study (FWS)

    • The US Department of Education provides funding to students who work part-time through the FWS. Eligible institutions who employ students and pay at least the minimum wage may provide government funding in order to compensate student workers. All FWS recipients must complete the FAFSA application and work within their institution (school, nonprofit organization, etc.) in order to receive compensation.

  • Grants & Scholarshipsscholarship application

    • In addition to loans and part-time student worker compensation, the FAFSA may provide applicants with a grant for attending higher education.

    • A grant is need-based financial aid for students; scholarships, on the other hand, are merit-based (see http://www.collegescholarships.org/grants/ for additional information).

    • There are thousands of grants and scholarships available for all types of students. Visit College Scholarships for additional resources on finding a grant that fits you! 

  • Loansgrants, loans, scholarships

    • Student loans are an easy way to fund your education. There are both private and public loans available for student applicants. Private loans are typically funded by banks and private organizations. Public loans are provided through universities and the US Department of Education; they are made available after submitting a FAFSA application.

    • There are many types of loans available. Make sure to understand the terms of the loan and ask yourself some important questions:

      • When will you pay it back? 

      • What is the interest rate? 

      • When does interest start accruing? 

      • Can you afford the monthly payments upon graduation?

    • Find answers to your questions and additional information from the US Department of Education.