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Common Financial Aid Questions

How can the average student find financial aid for college?

Start searching for financial aid by filling out a FAFSA and by applying for scholarships. FAFSA submissions help students find thousands of dollars in financial aid. Even if students are not eligible for free grants, they can qualify for federal student loans that have lower interest rates than private loans. Scholarships are great funding option. There are countless scholarships available that are not merit based. Conducting a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com helps students find scholarships for the average, the exceptional, and the unusual. With over 2.7 million scholarships and grants, students will find money.

Are scholarship searches reliable?

Some searches are reliable. Scholarships.com, for example is a member of the BBB, TrustE, NACAC, and NSPA, and is a proven, legitimate scholarship search website with dozens of success stories millions of students assisted with over a decade of service. Always be wary of services that ask for money. Stay away from services that claim to do all the work, because scholarships require students to submit personal information. Any site that suggests otherwise is a scam.

Will scholarships affect my eligibility for financial aid?

They might. The government takes student awards into consideration when offering aid. However, do not be deterred, the effects of scholarships are not drastic. Most schools use only student money to offset loan eligibility, not grant awards. Students who do not receive enough financial aid benefit greatly from scholarships.

Are graduate students eligible for government financial aid?

Yes, but not all of it. Graduate students are eligible for federal loans and Federal Work Study (FWS), but are not eligible for free government Pell Grants. However, plenty of non-government aid is available for graduates. Find countless scholarships, grants and fellowship opportunities for graduate students at Scholarships.com. Also look at college financial aid sites for more options.

My parents have saved for my education; will this affect my eligibility for aid?

Yes. However, do not be discouraged from saving. Pell Grants were capped at $5,635 for the 2012-2013 school year. Even if you get the full amount, which most students don’t, you will still need savings. It is best to set up an account in a guardian’s name. Less than 6% of parent assets are taken into account when determining financial need. Student assets are weighed more heavily so consider using student money to buy college necessities before submitting the FAFSA.

I didn’t receive enough government aid. What can I do?

You have options. If you did not receive sufficient aid talk to the financial aid administrators at your school. They will point you in the right direction if your financial situation has recently changed (e.g. job loss or new medical bills). Also apply for scholarships and grants year round. As a last resort, take out loans.

How do I know which lender to choose?

Students that take out loans can look at college preferred-lender lists. These lists are supposed to be in favor of the student, with low-interest rates and high-quality service. However there have been many instances of suspicious college and lender partnerships and corruption. Therefore, be wary of these lists and do your research. Compare interest rates, on-time payment benefits, penalty charges and additional fees of every loan you research.

What is the difference between loans, grants and scholarships?

Grants and scholarships are free monetary awards: they do not need to be repaid. Grants may be offered without service requirements (e.g., Pell Grants) or with research requirements (this is typically the case with graduate students.) Scholarships are awarded based on merit, talent, major, ethnicity etc. They are not restricted to top students. Loans need to be repaid, with interest.

What are 529 Plans and Roth IRAs?

Students and parents who can put college money aside should take advantage of student savings account tax incentives. The most popular savings account options are the 529 Plan and the Roth IRA. Additional options include the Coverdell and the UTMA.

Are there any tax incentives for attending college?

Aside from 529 Plan incentives, the Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit also have tax incentives.

How can I increase my chances of winning scholarships?

Increase your chances of winning by decreasing competition. Apply for awards restricted to your city or major, or other specific criteria. Scholarships.com helps students find specific scholarships by matching awards to the information on your personal profile. Pay attention to all regulations and only apply for scholarships that you are eligible for. Remember to proofread your work.

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Last Reviewed: January 2020