Financial Aid Resources for College Students

College financial aid has become a necessity for most college students and graduates. Colleges and universities are becoming more expensive, thus putting a financial strain on students and parents. Students who are not financially able to pay for their tuition can apply for college financial aid from the federal government. There are guidelines that must be met in order to qualify for government assistance, but several thousands of students qualify for the aid and get checks quarterly to pay for their education. When applying for financial aid there are many factors that come into play.

To be eligible to receive federal student aid, students must meet certain requirements. They must be:

�· A U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
�· Registered with Selective Service (see www.sss.gov for more information)
�· Attending a participating college
�· Working toward a degree or certificate
�· Making satisfactory academic progress

Also

�· The applicant cannot owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal education loan
�· They must have financial need
�· They cannot have any drug convictions
Other requirements may apply. Contact the school’s financial aid office for more information.

Formula for Determining Financial Need

Using a “needs analysis” formula the government is able to determine the financial needs of the student. This analysis includes “price of attending,” which consists of tuition, fees, books and living expenses. Then they add expected family contributions, which is figured by assessing the family’s financial situation including income, assets and number of children. After the assessments then financial need is determined and the student is notified of what kinds of assistance is available to them.

The amount of the financial aid award depends on whether or not:

�· The student goes full-time or part-time
�· The student attends school for a full academic year or less
�· They believe that they have special circumstances such as unusual medical or dental expenses
If the student believes that they have special circumstances that should be taken into account, such as unusual medical or dental expenses or a significant change in income from one year to the next then the student contact the financial aid administrator at the schools to which they are applying.

Any financial aid a student is eligible to receive will be paid through the school. Typically, the school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining need is paid to the student for other expenses.

There are different kinds of college financial aid available to college students. The requirements for each program may differ. Some of the aid available is:

Federal Pell Grants

These grants do not have to be repaid and they are available to undergraduate students only. Applications for the Pell Grant can be found at the school’s financial aid office or on the Internet at “www.fafsa.com” . In order to be eligible for these grants students and their parents must meet financial guidelines. They are designed to help families whose children would otherwise not be able to further their education because of financial restraints.

Federal Stafford Loans

These loans must be repaid and are available to undergraduate and graduate students. They have a cap amount that you can borrow. The interest and payments are usually deferred until the student graduates. There are strict rules in order to qualify so each student that is approved must meet the requirements.
Stafford college loans are guaranteed by the government to have a low interest rates and deferred payment options. There are two types of Stafford loans one is the subsidized Stafford loan and the other is the unsubsidized Stafford loan. The government pays the interest on your subsidized Stafford loan until you complete your education, but with the unsubsidized Stafford loan students must pay the interest from the date of origination. In order to qualify for a subsidized loan the student must meet financial requirements and show need for the government’s aid.

PLUS Loans

PLUS college loans are Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students. This loan is designed for parents to be able to cover their child’s education expenses. The credit history of the parent is evaluated and if approved the payment start 60 days from the approval date. If a parent is looking for a way to cover their child’s college education but they don’t have the funds upfront this is a great option.

Work Study Program

This program may vary by school, but it is essentially designed to help students earn money while attending a college or university. The school provides them with a job so they can earn money to live on and pay tuition.

Perkins Loans

These are low-interest loans that must be repaid after graduation and is typically around $4000 to $6000 for undergraduate and graduate students. Banks and other financial institutions fund these loans.
Campus-Based Programs
Campus-Based Programs are available at participating schools. Different schools will have different resources and programs available to college students. Each school determines their own participation requirements.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are grants available for undergraduates only; awards range from $100-$4,000.

Scholarships
There are all kinds of scholarships for eligible students. Many businesses and foundations offer scholarships through schools and universities. Information about this type of financial assistance is readily accessible in the library or on the Internet.

College financial aid is widely available and there are so many options that it can get confusing. People interested in applying for financial aid should consult with the schools financial aid office in order to explore all options and programs. A financial aid administrator can tell them about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources. The school is required to inform the of its aid procedures and deadlines, and how and when they will receive their aid award. The applicant should keep copies of all financial aid documents and your enrollment agreement.

Free information about federal, state, institutional, and private student aid can be found in the local library’s reference section (usually listed under “student aid” or “financial aid”).

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