Introduction to Financial Aid
As attending schools, colleges and universities has become more expensive, an increasing number of students have turned to financial aid to help pay for it. While there are many kinds of financial aid available, none come knocking on your door. You have to find them and take the appropriate steps to apply. Financial aid can include loans, grants, work-study programs, or other types of aid. While some types, like grants, may not need to be repaid, they all involve some type of cost, whether an actual fee or just the time involved in finding and applying for the aid.
Financial Aid FAQs
What is Financial Aid?
Financial Aid is a broad term that one generally refers to when talking about funds used for schooling. Financial aid funds come from a variety of sources, and may or may not require repayment. There also may be stipulations regarding the use of the financial aid-for instance, one source may only allow funds to be used for tuition, while another source may impose no restriction at all.
Is an online student eligible for Financial Aid?
In general, yes. Again, the source of the money can place certain stipulations on the use of the funds, but most sources of financial aid only require that the school you attend be accredited by a recognized accreditation agency. Whether the class is in person or online is irrelevant.
What are the types of Financial Aid?
The broad categories of the types of Financial Aid are, Need - Based and Non Need - Based. Within both of those categories, you'll find loans, grants, and work-study programs to help you pay for school. The sources of any of the Financial Aid types can be anything from the federal government to a small, local organization to which you have some connection.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the primary document to be completed when a student is even considering Financial Aid. Completion of the FAFSA opens many doors and best of all can be completed online! Many sources of funding for school require that you complete a FAFSA form before applying for their Financial Aid program.
A fabulous source of information regarding loans, scholarships and grants is your school's guidance counselor. Guidance counselors are knowledgeable in finding school funds for students. An hour or so spent with a counselor can yield thousands of dollars in savings. Yes, many scholarships and grants require you to write an essay, so set aside some time, sharpen that pencil and get cracking.
Be sure to read all of the rules regarding any Financial Aid for which you want to apply. Most programs have deadlines and certain requirements. Make sure you meet the basic requirements before completing the application.
For instance, if you find the perfect scholarship, but it's only awarded every other year, make sure this is the year it's going to be awarded before you do all of that work! Are there minimum GPA requirements? What about the award date? Will the Financial Aid be awarded before the date you need to pay your bills?
Above all, stay organized. Figure out an efficient system that keeps you on track of what you will apply for, the applications that are already in the review process, and what you've received a decision on.
Continue to seek aid from various sources until you have been awarded what you need to further your education.