Financial aid is funding that is intended to help students pay education-related expenses, including tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies at the college or university. Financial aid includes grants and scholarships (free money that does not need to be paid back), work-study (work for funds), and loans (must be paid back.)
Financial Aid Resources
- FAFSA. Also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal aid programs, such as the Pell Grant and Direct Loans. The FAFSA is also used to determine the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). College use the EFC to determine eligibility for institutional need-based aid.
- CSS Profile. Over 200 institutions also require the CSS Profile to determine financial aid.
- Federal Student Aid. A department of the U.S. Department of Education. This is the place to learn about all types of financial aid options including the federal pell grant, work-study programs, and federal student loan programs. The website also provides detailed instructions on filing out the FAFSA and aid eligibility information.
- FAFSA4caster. Free financial aid calculator that gives you an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid.
- State Financial Aid Programs. Many U.S. states also award financial aid to students who are residents of their states.
- Tuition Exchange Programs. Many states offer programs that allow residents to attend institutions in another state at the in-state tuition cost, or a discounted cost.
Scholarships are wonderful resources to help studets pay for college. Scholarships do not need to be paid back. Below are some of my favorite scholarship listing sites:
- JLV College Counseling. My scholarship database. Scholarships are added on a regular basis.
- Cappex * Cappex is a great scholarship search site. *This is an affiliate link, which means if you sign up with Cappex, I receive a small commission.
- Raise.Me – Micro-Schoalrship site. Allows you to earn scholarships for college starting in your freshman year of high school. There are scholarships for earning A’s in classes, participating in specific extracurricular activities, attending a college fair, and visiting colleges.
Money Saving Tips for College Students
Full-ride scholarships are not very common. Many students have to use loans to help fund their education. There are different loans you may be offered:
- Subsidized Stafford Loans. Loans available to undergraduate students with financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while the student is in school and enrolled at least half-time.
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of financial need. Interest accrual begins at the point of disbursement.
- Parent PLUS Loans. Loans provided by the U.S. Department of Education that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college. Parents must be approved to receive the loan.
- Alternative Loans. Private loans that are not part of the federal aid program. Interest rates and fees vary greatly and will depend on the borrower’s credit. Consumer Affairs has put together a great resource that compares private student loans loans.
Financial Aid Books
If you like having physical books to refer to, I recommend the following books. I have these books in my own library.
The links for the books are affiliate links through Amazon. You will not pay extra; however, I do receive a small reimbursement if you purchase through the links. Thank you for your support of JLV College Counseling.
Getting Financial Aid 2018 (College Board Guide to Getting Financial Aid)* by The College Board
The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price* by Lynn O’Shaughnessy
The Financial Aid Handbook* by Carol Stack
Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro* by Jodi Okun
How to Win College Scholarships: A Guide for Parents in 10 Easy Steps* by Monica Matthews
The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2018: Billions of Dollars in Scholarships, Grants and Prizes* by Gen and Kelly Tanabe