To help you afford a higher education, the US government offers financial aid packages. Though this is incredibly helpful, the application and retrievable process of the financial aid can often be confusing and time consuming. Seeking help from financial aid services can help expedite your application process and get you the most from your student funding.
FAFSABefore you can accept government financial aid, you must fill out your FAFSA, also known as the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. The form contains information like financial assets, income, degree pursued and potential schools. Both parents and children fill out this form completely. To be applicable, students must have either their GED or be set to complete their high school diploma and have no drug-related convictions. To receive government funding, students must also be certified citizens of the US. This form is used to regulate which families and students receive funding from the government over their time in college. The amount a family is expected to contribute to their students’ education is called the EFC, or Estimated Family Contribution. This number is used by the university’s financial aid office to determine the need of each student and how much funding they should receive.
Available AwardsDepending on need, students can receive low-interest loans, work study programs and grants. Each school has aggregate limits as well as annual funding caps. The most frequently rewarded grant is the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant does not need to be paid back. Part-time, government subsidized work is referred to as a work study. To become eligible, and to maintain that eligibility, the student must show satisfactory academic progress, or SAP. If you cannot meet these standards, you run the risk of losing your work study and you may be asked to repay your grants. University Scholarships, in-state financial aid, and crowdfunding via family and friends, are also a few old-fashioned ways of obtaining money needed for school. But if you’re trying to think outside of the box, here is are a few other alternative government aid programs:
- Federal Work Study—This program helps students supplement their tuition costs with work opportunities.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant—This grant is given out by the college to a student with the utmost financial need.
- Discretionary Grants—Similar to a Pell Grant in that it could come directly from the government.