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How to Get Financial Aid

Updated on March 7, 2008

College Financial Aid

There are different types of financial aid for students, so when going to college and trying to figure out how you'll pay for all the tuition and college costs, you will want to consider all the different types of aid.

First, consider college scholarships. With scholarships, it's basically free money that you don't have to pay back. So if that mean writing a five page essay to get $1,000, then I'd say it's worth. That's just me though.

Next, consider a college grant. In most cases college grants do not have to be paid back, but I would check with the financial aid department at the college you intend to attend to check per grant. Or just remember to read all the fine print.

Lastly, you can consider a college loan. Loans are not free money. You have to pay back a loan with interest. Usually, college loans are set up so that you do not have to start paying until 6 months after you graduate.

How to Apply for Financial Aid

Once you have decided which form of financial aid will suit you best, you need to get started on the paper work.

First, you need to fill out the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form in order to apply for any financial aid in the United States. The form is free, and you can obtain it by either your college admission or financial aid department, the FASFA website, or by calling (800)-433-3243.

Then, you will want to check to see if the college that you are going to attend requires any special financial aid forms to be filled out.

Once all of these forms are filled out, it's up to you to decide which form of financial aid will benefit you best. Once you've decided that, you will want to start searching for scholarships, grants, or a loan company to work with.

In terms of a scholarship, you can ask the college or university if they have any available scholarships, as sometimes colleges will offer special scholarships to students. You can find scholarships online. Or, if you're a high school senior, you may want to ask your guidance counselor for a list of available scholarships.

College scholarships are wide and varied, so you can find at least a small handful that you will benefit from. You just have to look. Try to apply for as many scholarships as you can, but make sure that they fit you and your interests.

In terms of a grant, you can find them amongst the scholarship lists. They work similar to scholarships, but remember to read all the fine print.

If you have to go the loan route, you may want to consider a Stafford or Perkins loan. (I personally, have a Stafford loan, and it's been working great for me.) You will need to make sure that your FASFA form is up to date in order to apply for a government loan.

Other loans are available per your bank, private lender, or other agencies. You can check online through the college scholarship searches for other loans.

Work as Financial Aid

There are some programs that offer a work program as a part of a financial aid package. You will need to ask the college if they have any such programs. The students who apply for these work- study programs tend to be as needed.

You may, also, consider working for the college at the college, not for a financial aid benefit.

In either case, you will want to question your college advisor about the positions and packages available.

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