For many people, how to pay for a college education is one of the first major financial decisions they'll make. There are some big decisions you’ll face and we hope these resources will help you understand your options for financing your college education.
TAKE ACTION and Apply for Financial Aid!!!
No matter what your financial status, or what college you choose to attend, everyone should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process.
1. Fill out the FAFSA
You must complete this form to be eligible for any federal student loans or grants. Submit the FAFSA as early as possible. Find your FAFSA deadlines online.
Even if you are not sure you'll be eligible for any federal aid, you still need the FAFSA - schools often award scholarships and other grant aid using FAFSA information.
If you are having trouble filling out the form, contact the Department of Education.
2. Explore all your federal loan options first
If you need to borrow to pay for school, federal student loans almost always cost less than private student loans and have more protections when it's time for repayment. If you are choosing between schools, compare each school's aid offer.
3. Shop around if your aid package doesn't cover the full cost of college
Talk to your school's financial aid office about alternative scholarships or loan options. You may want to ask your parent to consider taking out a PLUS loan. And if you decide a private student loan is your best option, make sure you understand the terms and costs.
If you’re considering student loans to help you pay for school, you’re not alone – many students need loans to cover their full cost of attendance. In 2010, 67% of bachelor's degree recipients used loans to pay for their education. But the more money you borrow now, the higher your monthly loan payments will be after you graduate.
If you have to take out student loans, comparing your options can help you find the student loan best suited for your needs. How much you can borrow varies, depending on your credit and other factors, but generally, you should only borrow what you need and you should not borrow more than your college costs.
With student loans, you essentially have two choices: federal student loans and private loans.
For most borrowers, federal student loans are the best option. When you start to pay back your federal loans, the interest rate will be fixed, which will help you predict your payments after graduation. And in some cases, the federal government will pay the interest on your loans while you are in school - these loans are called subsidized loans.
Other student loans are generally private student loans. The most common private student loans are offered by banks. Their interest rates are often variable, which means your interest rates and payments could go up over time. Private loans can also be more expensive - rates have been as high as 16% over the past couple of years. And when it is time to repay, private loans don't offer as many options to reduce or postpone payments.
For most people, federal student loans are a better deal than private student loans, so you'll want to take advantage of federal options first.
College scholarships are forms of aid that help students pay for their education. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Hundreds of thousands of scholarships and fellowships from several thousand sponsors are awarded each year.
Generally, scholarships and fellowships are reserved for students with special qualifications, such as academic, athletic or artistic talent. Awards are also available for students who:
The best way to find scholarships for college and fellowships is to use a personalized search, like Fastweb, that compares your background with a database of awards. Only those awards that fit your profile are identified as matches.
There are several free scholarship databases available online. See our Scholarship Resources Page.
With more than 1.5 million scholarships worth more than $3.4 billion, the Fastweb scholarship search is the largest, most accurate and most frequently updated scholarship database. If you supply an email address, they will notify you when new awards that match your profile are added to the database. Fastweb also includes a college search and numerous other student resources.
Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing and searching the types of scholarships that are out there will ensure that you find any and every scholarship for which you qualify.
One of the best ways to pay for college is to find work that helps foot part of the tuition bill. Check out this resource that lists businesses who may be hiring part-time employees in your area.
You got a job – congratulations!
If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, have not graduated High School, and are enrolled in high school, you need a permit to work.
Need a work permit? Please see Colleen McQuade, Director of College Counseling and Transitions, and pick up a copy of the "Intent to Employ Form."
The high school you attend can issue you a permit to work that you give to your employer. The permit will be good for a limited period of time – for example during the summer. If you are still working when the permit expires, you must go through the process again.
Step 1 - Download a copy of the "Intent to Employ Form"
Step 2 - Complete this form with your employer
Step 3 - Bring COMPLETED form to school with a photo identification (I.D.) card
Step 4 - You will be issued a work permit