Regardless of which college or career school you choose, you'll probably need help paying for your tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. You're probably wondering how you're going to pay for these things. As we mentioned, the Department of Education offers a variety of student financial aid programs, if you qualify.
Federal student aid includes grants, work-study, and loans. You don't have to pay back grants. Work-study allows you to earn money for your education, and loans allow you to borrow money for school. You'll have to repay any money you borrow. See the sections on Pell Grants, Campus-Based Aid Programs, FFEL and Direct Loans, PLUS loans and the questions for more detailed information on the federal student aid programs.
You can learn about state programs by contacting your state department of education, and you can learn about other programs by checking with your high school counselor or the college or career school you plan to attend. You also might want to use a search engine on the Web with a key phrase such as "financial aid," "student aid," or "scholarships." Or, check the reference section of your local library under those same phrases.
Many private scholarship search services provide lists of sources of financial assistance for which you may apply. We do not evaluate other scholarship search services.
You can also find a lot of information on the Internet. Many colleges and career schools have Web sites. If you know someone who attends or attended a school you're considering, ask that person his or her opinion of the school.
You should ask about the school's accreditation, licensing, student loan default rate, and campus security.
Find out the school's job placement rates (the percentage of students who are placed in jobs relevant to their courses of study).
Find out about the school's refund policy.
Find out about financial aid availability at the school.
Find out about the school's return-of-aid policy.
Find out the school's completion and transfer-out rates.
Get a copy of the school's "equity-in-athletics" report.
You also might want to compare your expected debt for attending the school to the money you expect to earn once you complete the educational program. If you borrow money to pay for all or a portion of your education, you'll need to earn or have access to enough money to repay your debt. Check the Web or visit the library to learn more about the careers you are interested in. The US Department of Labor publishes the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which includes a list of career choices and information on typical wages or salaries for many occupations. The Labor Department also publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which gives job descriptions, including starting salaries and annual income averages.
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