The 411 on financial aid
Financial aid packages might seem overwhelming. From merit scholarships to need-based loans, these grants play an integral part in choosing the right college for you. Are you totally clueless about financial aid? You might want to do your homework and get to know which packages work for your current situation.
Need-based loans and grants
A number of colleges and universities provide need-based financial aid loans and grants for students whose parents find it difficult to pay for school. Additionally, because many students choose to pay their way through college on their own, financial aid offices understand how difficult that can be and provide hefty grants.
Some schools also provide loans interest-free, so you don't have to worry about accruing additional debt after getting your degree.
All of those late night study sessions, AP classes and top SAT scores can pay off in the long run, given that nearly every school provides merit-based grants. If your report card is decorated with high letter grades, don't be afraid to show it off. You could potentially get a full ride just by being brilliant.
Even if you don't get a merit-based grant right off the bat as a freshman, if you keep your grades up throughout your first few semesters, your college may reward you with a chunk of scholarship money down the road.
Grades aren't everything, either. Athletes, musicians and artists can apply for scholarships as well. If you scored the winning touchdown for the last game of the season, chances are a recruiter knows about it. Pick schools that already have their eye on you.
Whether you're working in an office or mom and dad work at a university, some employers give financial stipends for people who want to go to college. Some companies pay for 100 percent of tuition fees, at times down to the very last textbook, under employer reimbursement programs (ERP). Although ERPs vary, if you're working in a large business, you should look into whether it provides any financial assistance. Additionally, after getting a degree related to your current position, you could swiftly move up in the company and be well on your way to having a promising career.
If you're part of a minority group or have done a lot of community service, you may want to research scholarship programs that are catered to people like you. From single mothers to Native American populations, just about everyone qualifies for varying scholarships. By writing an essay outlining your experiences, you could accumulate a number of grants to help fund your postsecondary education.
The work isn't over after getting your financial aid package. For those who have need-based loans and grants, most colleges and universities require them to participate in work-study programs. These jobs are reserved for the financially needy, so you won't have to worry about positions filling up too quickly. Primarily on-campus gigs, work-study positions are extremely convenient and you can even apply for a job related to your field of study.
Athletes with merit-based scholarships will have to maintain their grades and stay on the team. Because juggling sports and higher education can be difficult, schools often set aside special study hours just for athletes. Tutors are on hand to answer questions and help foster good study habits.