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Parents and high school students dream of the first day of college. Don't let the cost of a higher education dampen your spirits. Help may be available to you in the form of financial aid.
If you're wondering how you're going to afford paying college tuition for yourself or your child, financial aid may be your answer. Financial aid consists of various loans, grants, scholarships, and work study programs.
Federal financial aid packages, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, are given out to more than 8 million students each year; with a total student loan amount over $30 billion. These loans aren't tax deductible, and the repayment schedule typically begins after graduation.
You're eligible for federal Student Financial Assistance (SFA) programs if you:
There may be other considerations and requirements that you'll want to carefully investigate. For example, the amount of financial aid you're eligible for is directly related to your income, so be sure to check with your college guidance counselor or financial aid office. To determine your eligibility for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Since it can take three to four weeks to process the paperwork, it's recommended that the form be completed in January if you or your child is planning to start school in the fall semester. The U.S. Department of Education recommends going to its website, www.fafsa.ed.gov , for more information and to file the form online.
After filing the FAFSA form, you'll receive summary information called the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR includes the amount you and your child are expected to contribute to the education expense, called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Financial aid administrators use this figure, derived from a formula established by Congress, to award your financial aid package. Your financial need is determined by subtracting your EFC from the cost of attending the school (including living expenses). In other words:
Financial Need = Cost of Attendance - EFC
Depending on your level of financial need, you may be eligible for the programs listed below:
Student loans may be a great help to you in paying for college. Student loans are granted at below-market interest rates, require no collateral, and repayment typically doesn't begin until after graduation. Another benefit comes from the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 that allows tax deductions for student loan interest payments after January 1, 1998.
Stafford Loan - Available to both undergraduate and graduate students, these loans account for approximately 70%, or $25 billion per year, of all student loan programs in the United States. There are two types of Stafford loans:
The amount you can borrow depends on various things, such as your financial need and whether or not other loans have been issued to you. The interest rate, adjusted annually, will never exceed 8.25%.
Parent's Loan to Undergraduate Students (PLUS loans) - These loans are issued by banks and other special lenders to parents of dependent children who attend school at least halftime. The interest rate will never exceed 9%, and it is adjusted annually. This loan isn't based on financial need, and you'll need a good credit history to be approved. If you can't get a PLUS loan, your child is eligible to receive additional Stafford Loan funding.
Perkins Loan - Participating schools administer these loans that are available to undergraduate and graduate students who have a high financial need. Carrying a low interest rate of 5%, these loans are funded by the government. The school, which contributes to the amount of the loan, acts as the lender, and repayment begins after graduation. For the 2000 - 2001 school year, the maximum loan amount is $4,000 for undergraduate students and $6,000 for graduate students.
The largest source of grant money is the Federal Government. Unlike loans, grants don't have to be repaid. As the federal grants listed below don't cover all of college tuition, it's a good idea to concurrently apply for state grants that can supplement the funding.
Pell Grant - If your EFC is below a specified amount, you may be eligible for a Pell Grant. They're available to undergraduate students who don't yet have a bachelors or other professional degree. For the 1999 - 2000 school year, awards ranged from $400 to $3,125 per student.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) - These grants are only available to undergraduates. Administered by your school, awards range from $100 to $4,000 per student for the 2000 - 2001 school year. These don't have to be paid back.
There are billions of dollars available each year in the form of scholarship money. While you don't have to repay scholarship money, you may be held to minimum requirements, such as maintaining a certain grade point average. It's typically available from a college, nonprofit organization, or government agency. Talk with your high school guidance counselor about scholarship options. You may learn about local resources, such as civic groups or school clubs. Check out the Internet by typing "scholarship" in any search engine. You could even be more specific by looking for things like "dance scholarships," "women studies scholarships," or "football scholarships."
This campus-based program provides jobs to undergraduate and graduate students who earn money to pay for education expenses. Contact your school's work study office for more information.
There are many ways to finance a college education. Checking out your options early on will give you the opportunity to get the greatest amount of financial aid you can.
If you have any questions about the information contained in this article, contact your high school's college guidance counselor or the financial aid department of the college or university you want to attend. You can also go to the homepage of the U.S. Department of Education at www.ed.gov and search on your topic of interest.
You might legally be able to buy shots at the local bar, but you still need your parents' information when filling out the FAFSA application. The U.S. Department of Education considers a student a dependent until the age of 24, except in certain circumstances. This is important because your dependency status can affects how your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is calculated on the FAFSA application.
A 2008 national survey of college therapists conducted by the American College Counseling Association (ACCA) showed that the number of students seeking mental help has significantly increased in recent years. In fact, 95% of the college therapists surveyed said more students were coming to them with serious psychological problems. Nearly one in every ten students is now utilizing campus therapists to deal with mental and emotional problems.
The Pell Grant is one of the many financial aid options provided by the federal government, and it's possibly the best known grant out there. The Pell Grant program was begun by the Department of Education way back in 1972, making it the granddaddy of federal grants.
Well, the news is in, and tuition prices are up. The most recent report out of the College Board announced that the average tuition at four-year public colleges in the U.S. rose $429 to $7,020, a 6.5% increase of last year’s numbers. Private colleges experienced a similar incline, as tuitions across the country rose 4.4% to $26,273. Including room and board, the price tag associated with public schools jumps to $15,213. Private schools face an average cost of $35,636 when you factor in the costs associated with college life outside of the classroom.
If you're a student who's been involved in the fine arts throughout high school and want to continue on when you get to college, it's a certainty that you'll need to submit a portfolio for review along with your application. For serious art students these portfolios can become the breaking point in the application process. Often they can actually turn into a difficult project to manage as you simultaneously put together the rest of your application.
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