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Student Financial Aid

Funding your education entirely with scholarship money is a great goal, but it is not likely, especially with housing and other living expenses. However there are student financial aid options that exist beyond scholarships and student loans and learning about student financial aid in advance could save thousands in student loan debt.

Do Your Research

Research financial aid before the federal student financial aid for college January 1. Read about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA on the Web is necessary to qualify for need-based student financial aid, including scholarships. The Department of Education offers a tool called FAFSA4caster which estimates your expected family contribution and what financial aid you can expect before application deadlines.

Keep up-to-date on changes in financial aid. For example, the Department of Education recently launched three new grant programs to supplement Federal Pell Grants for specific groups of students. The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), the SMART grant, and the TEACH grant are all awarded to FAFSA filers based on financial need and additional criteria. Keep especially ahead of the ACG because the criteria must be met early on in high school. Just like scholarships, investigating financial aid options early increases your chances of qualifying for more financial aid.

Apply Early

Be aware of your state’s priority deadline for the FAFSA, in addition to scholarship and other application deadlines. Certain forms of student financial aid, including state grants, low-interest Federal Perkins Loans, and other campus-based programs, have limited funding and are given out first-come, first-serve. To get the best federal student financial aid package possible, apply early. Most private colleges also require a CSS profile to award institutional aid.

Explore Every Option

Federal aid is constant, but institutional aid varies from college to college. For example, institutional aid amounts from state universities are different from aid at private schools. You might academic scholarship, a need-based grant, and a more generous federal aid package at one school, while another school will make you pay entirely in loans. Conduct a college search, in addition to searching for available scholarships and learning about federal student financial aid for college. Apply for all available financial aid programs at each school to maximize your financial aid opportunity.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Harvard Supporters Back University in Admissions Trial

October 16, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Harvard students and alumni will testify in support of Harvard during the admissions trial this week, defending its "race-conscious admissions policy" against claims that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The trial is the latest chapter in a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA).

Harvard University has been accused of "balancing its undergraduate classes to ensure that it had admitted its desired share of students of each race and ethnicity" and also for penalizing Asian-American applicants by "systematically giving them lower scores on a metric admissions officers use to measure personality." Adam Mortara, a lawyer representing SFFA, stated that the university scores applicants in four categories: academic achievement, athletic ability, extracurriculars, and personality. While referencing admissions data, he concluded that, despite their higher academic performance, Asian-Americans are admitted at lower rates. [...]

Professor Sent Abroad After Posting Hateful Tweets

October 9, 2018

by Susan Dutca

An associate professor in security studies at Georgetown University who, last week, wished "death and castration" to GOP senators supporting confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is no longer teaching but will be "traveling internationally for university research." [...]

File FAFSA Immediately for Best Chance at Getting Money for College

October 2, 2018

by Susan Dutca

The official 2019-2020 college financial aid season began yesterday, October 1st, so it is critical that you file your Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) ASAP! Whether you are headed to college for the first time next fall, or you plan on attending college next year, you will want to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible, as many states and colleges award financial aid on a first come, first served basis. [...]

Last Reviewed: October 2018