Home > Resources > Parents’ Practical Guide to College > Parents’ Guide to College Financial Aid

Parents’ Guide to College Financial Aid

So how will you afford four (or more) years of higher education? Ever heard of FAFSA? If not, consider this your formal introduction because you two are going to become quite close over the course of your child’s matriculation. The FAFSA, which stands for the Free Application for Student Aid, must be completed each year your child is in college and determines exactly how much money you are eligible to receive through federal assistance programs and grants, how much you can borrow through federal loans and how much you may need to secure through private lending agencies annually.

ADVERTISEMENT

We’re not going to lie to you, the FAFSA can be a little intimidating for those filling it out for the first time but it will give you the best overall understanding of what you’ll receive from Uncle Sam and what you’ll have to dig out of your own pockets. Here’s a closer look. If the numbers don’t crunch the way you anticipated they would, don’t forget about grants and scholarships – there are literally thousands of them that your child could win for being a good student, community leader or left-handed vegetarian. (Yes, we said left-handed vegetarian. And we were serious.)

Loans vs. Grants vs. Scholarships

Your parents probably stressed the value of a dollar to you on a daily basis and while it may have seemed like overkill then, you probably thank them every day for the constant reminder. Not only have you used that advice to pad your own accounts but have no doubt put some money aside for your child’s education; unless you are extremely well off or have recently won the lottery, however, these savings won’t go very far when you factor in tuition, room and board and other educational expenses. Simply put, you’re going to need some help in the finance department and loans, grants and scholarships will help you through…but what option is best?

A “Good Deal” Goes Beyond the Numbers

What constitutes a “good deal” in terms of education? Sure, the cost will play a factor but that’s not the only issue to consider. Does the college offer your child’s intended major? Where did the faculty graduate from? Are the residence halls up to par? Is the food edible? These are all questions you and your child should answer before committing to attend a college. How? Do your research.

ADVERTISEMENT

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Which Student Loan Is Best for Me?

June 13, 2022

by Scholarships.com Staff

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. [...]

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2022 Scholarships

May 25, 2022

by Liz Montenegro

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. [...]

Travis Scott's Foundation Awards 100 HBCU Student Scholarships

May 20, 2022

by Liz Montenegro

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. [...]