Pay for School

If you still need money after taking advantage of all your federal loans, you will have to take out private loans. To avoid private loans, be aware of all federal aid opportunities. There are many financial aid programs to help students pay for school. Before turning to student loans, or at least before repaying them completely, research the options below.

Federal Grants

To get financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. FAFSA on the Web is the easiest way to apply, but there is a paper form available. Federal Pell Grants are the most common government grants, and are need-based grants. The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a Pell Grant adjunct that helps undergraduate students with exceptional need pay for school. Between $100 and $4,000 per year is available to those who are eligible.

There are special grants for students interested in teaching or majoring in high-demand fields like math and science. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, TEACH Grant, is for education majors, and the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, National SMART Grant, is for math and science. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is a new federal grant for students outside of those fields that have exceptional academic merit, and have completed a rigorous high school curriculum.

Federal Loan Repayment Options

When students use up all grants and scholarships, they have to borrow money. There are a few circumstances where students are eligible for loan cancellation. If you need to take out student loans familiarize yourself with all loan options, and check if you qualify for loan reduction or cancellation.

Those who plan to teach math, science or special education at low-income schools can have their Stafford Loans forgiven up to $17,500. Those who become full-time teachers for at least five years in any subject in low-income schools can get $5,000 in loan forgiveness.

Students who do want to be teachers but are still interested in public service jobs are eligible for discharge through the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees program, PSLF. If you work for the government, military, law enforcement, libraries or certain tax-exempt organizations you can qualify for partial loan cancellation.

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Last Reviewed: February 2020