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.
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.
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.
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
June 13, 2022
The new semester is just around the corner, which means it is time to start thinking about how you are going to afford the new school session. Student loans can be taken out any time of the year and are useful for paying for textbooks, special classes or summer terms and additional living expenses. Choosing the right student loan can help you reach your education and career goals while still keeping your finances balanced. Here’s what to look for before you take out a student loan this summer. [...]
May 25, 2022
As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we reflect on the enormous contributions of Asian Americans and share their culturally rich history. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, with more than 23 million it total. However, API individuals, communities, and businesses have been disproportionately impacted by discrimination and criminal acts that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic in recent years. Now more than ever, we need to stand united as Americans against anti-Asian racism. [...]
May 20, 2022
Now in its second year, Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation awarded $1 million dollars to 100 high-achieving Black high school seniors with financial need. This scholarship, known as the Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund, was named after Scott’s grandfather who was a Dean of the Prairie View A&M, as well as an alumnus. Each recipient won $10,000 that will be applied to their college educational expenses. These students have maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA throughout their high school career and will attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the fall. This year, all 38 HBCUs across the nation were represented among the recipients. [...]