Applying for college financial aid can be a confusing and intimidating process. That’s why we started Financial Aid Finder: To help you navigate the process and make the most of your educational opportunities.
Your key to the treasure chest of financial aid – both federal and state (as well as many private sources) – is the FAFSA. That’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and we’ve got the low-down on when, how and where to fill yours out. The info you give will be used to determine your financial aid eligibility – AKA the degree of your financial need relative to the cost of attending college your particular school.
Did you know that the biggest provider of financial aid in the United States is the federal government? Washington funds more than two-thirds of all financial aid award packages to the tune of $94 billion a year. That assistance comes in a few different forms, including:
- Federally-backed, fixed-interest rate loans, like Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans for students and PLUS Loans for parents
- Federal student grants, like the Pell Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, and the National SMART Grant, all of which are available to low-income students.
- Work-study programs that let you earn money for college costs from on-campus jobs
- Military Student Aid like Tuition Assistance (TA) and the Montgomery GI Bill, which is earmarked for the US Armed Forces, including active-duty soldiers, members of the national guard, veterans, reservists and their family members
Maybe you already know that the federal package isn’t going to fully cover your college costs. Then you’ll want to check out our trove of grants sources for women, African American and Latino students, and students with disabilities.
Looking to cut costs, increase your aid package or earn more money? All of these are great strategies for making college more affordable and we’ll walk you through them, step by step.
And finally, even if the start of your higher education is still a few years off, you probably already know that college costs are rising rapidly and the time to save is now. To help you sort it all out, the Financial Aid Finder wrote the 411 on 529 Plans, including College Savings and Prepaid Tuition.