The Secret to Graduating College Debt Free

The+Secret+to+Graduating+College+Debt+Free

Nicole Seemann, Editor In Chief

Going off to college can be scary business. Especially when you look at the cost. But you shouldn’t hold yourself back because of some money troubles; you are in the prime of your life. The decisions you make now can decide who you’ll be years down the road. Money should not not hinder you from going to school. There are countless ways you can get financial assistance, and a big one is financial aid.

Financial Aid 101: A brief overview of the basics. 

Use your High School Resources:

Lake Havasu High School knows just how important financial aid is and their career center has planned accordingly. You can check out their Facebook page by clicking here, or you call call Mrs. George if you have any questions. Just call 928-854-5406. Lastly, you can join their google classroom. The code to join is vwrvuun.

Fill out a FAFSA Form: 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form can be your life ticket. Colleges use your FAFSA data when determining your federal aid eligibility. After submitting this form you’ll receive your Student Aid Report, which will give you some basic information about your qualifications for federal student aid. This form needs to be filled out every year for it to be applicable. You can click here to fill out a FAFSA form now: Fill Out the FAFSA®.

Comparing Your Aid Offers:

Your aid offer describes the different types and amounts of aid a certain school is willing to offer you, as well as your expected costs for the year. Each school will provide different aid offers, it’s important to take this into consideration when choosing a college. 

How to Get Your Aid:

This is the easy part. Your financial aid office will apply your aid to the amount you own the school and send you the remaining balance to spend on other college costs. Remember, to keep your aid you must make satisfactory academic progress in the eyes of the school. 

Estimate Your Financial Aid:

For a free estimate calculator of your qualifications for federal student aid click here: FAFSA4caster.

Types of Financial Aid: don’t apply to just one, there are many ways you can get financial aid. 

There are a lot of types of aid. Before we dive in, take a quick look at this video from the Federal State Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education to get a brief overview of federal grants, loans and study jobs and how they can help your future.

Grants: 

One form of financial aid is a grant. This type of financial aid is a great source of free money that usually doesn’t have to be repaid. They can come from the federal/state government, your college/career school, or a private/nonprofit organization. Some grants available are Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

Scholarships: 

Scholarships are another form of aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Furthermore, they can be found all over the place. They are offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.  Due to this, the amount of money, eligibility and due dates depend on the scholarship-giver. 

Watch out, your overall student aid can’t be more than your cost of attending the school. This means that if you are awarded a scholarship you need to inform the school as it will affect the amount of money you get from other student aid. 

These scholarships are separated into two categories: merit-based and financial need. 

Merit-based scholarships are earned by meeting certain standards set by the one providing the scholarship. These standards are usually based on academic achievement, athletics or a mixture of academics and a certain talent, trait or interest.  

Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This type of scholarship varies in amount, ranging from a few hundred dollars to covering one’s whole tuition fee. 

Work Study Jobs: 

Part-time jobs are a great way for students to earn money and decrease their school debt.  Through the Federal Work-Study, these jobs are provided for students with financial need. This program encourages students to participate in community service work or work that’s related to their course of study. 

Loans:

Loans may seem scary to a high school student, but they do wonders when it comes to paying for college. As a little refresher, a loan is money you borrow and pay back with interest. Student loans can come from the government, financial institutions or other organizations. Though loans from the federal government (known as federal student loans) are likely to have more benefits. As an undergraduate student, the maximum amount one can borrow in Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans ranges from $5,500 to $12,500 per year, depending on your year in school and if you are dependent or independent.

Aid for Military Families:

Lake Havasu City is full of military families, but did you know this will help your education? Government and nonprofit organizations offer money for college to veterans, future military personnel, active duty personnel and those related.

Aid from the Federal Government:

The federal government has a wide range of financial aid programs for students to take advantage of. Though the main source of federal aid is given through the U.S. Department of Education, there are other programs such as tax benefits for education, education awards for community service with AmeriCorps, education and training vouchers for current and former foster care youth and scholarships/loan repayment programs. This form of aid can cover one’s tuition, room and board, books, transportation, dependent care and other related expenses. 

Aid from Your College or Career School:

Schools offer a multitude of financial aid through their grants and scholarships. It’s important to visit your school’s website or contact the financial aid office for more information on what the school can offer you. 

Other Forms of Aid:

On top of all this, students can get aid from international study or from their state government. If you’re studying abroad, or getting a degree from an international school, check to see if any federal student aid is available. Moreover, you contact your state grant agency to see if you are eligible for financial aid through your state government. 

Financial aid is a huge deal when it comes to school expenses. Don’t throw these free opportunities away, and instead jump on them as soon as possible. Spending just a little time out of your day can make the difference between graduating $80,000 in debt or with none at all.