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How to go to college for free

Updated on January 18, 2011

Let's go to college

If you're broke, a first time college student, made at least a 15 on your ACT and earned less then $6,500 last year then you can go to college for free. Even if none of these apply you can still probably go to college for free.Thousands of undergraduates are eligible to receive financial aid each year. 25% of these students don't even apply for this free money. Half of the students have no clue how to apply for it. Each year the government sets aside millions of dollars in grants for needy students to go to college. The best part is that this money does not have to be repaid. The most well known of these grants is the Pell Grant.

Pell Grants

The Pell Grant, named after former Senator Claiborne Pell, is the most common grant given out to undergraduates. The maximum amount award for the Pell is $5,550 per year. There are qualifications that each student has to meet before becoming eligible such as the previous year's income, family income and family contribution. For more details you can visit and while you're there you can even apply. Even if your family has made more than what is allowed for you to be eligible for the Pell you can always file as an independent, but be sure that your parents don't claim you as a dependent on their tax return or you may not be eligible to receive the full Pell grant. Your financial aid adviser can fill you in with any extra questions you may have.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

Another grant that many students look into is the SEOG grant, otherwise known as the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. This is another federal grant that doesn't have to be repaid. The SEOG is awarded to those students who show significant financial need and is usually awarded to undergraduates who receive the full Pell grant and are unemployed. The maximum amount awarded for the SEOG is $4,000, but on average students receive $2,900. Unlike the Pell, the SEOG is limited and is a first come first serve basis. There are more specific requirements for this grant which can be found on the FAFSA website above. Once you have your FAFSA filed you must contact your financial aid adviser and they will help you determine if you are eligible for this grant.

State Tuition Assistance Grants

The third type of grant that the majority of students are eligible for is the State Tuition Assistance Grant or the STAG. These grants don't pay as much as the previous two, but many students get them and use them to purchase their books for the year. Not all states have these grants, but the ones that do offer between $500 and $1,000 maximum per year. You can also find more information about these grants on the FAFSA website or talk with your financial aid adviser.

So with these 2 simple grants you could possibly get up to $10,000 in free college money per year. This should be enough to attend any community college. If you still feel that you need extra money to feel secure and stress free you can always look into getting a college loan.

College Loans

Most students are eligible to get college loans. The only downfall of a college loan is that the money has to be paid back. There are two types of college loans. A Subsidized college loan is a loan that one is awarded, but the government pays the interest rates as long as you are working towards your degree and still in college. They also take care of any interest during grace periods. An Unsubsidized loan holds the student solely responsible for paying all interest rates from the beginning of the loan period. You may still have grace periods during this time. These loans are called Stafford Loans. The amounts a student receives for a loan usually depends on their student status and institution they are attending. Loans can range from $2,500 to $15,000 per year. Always remember to only take out the funds needed because unlike the grants, these loans have to be paid back with interest. As always, you can find more information about these loans on the FAFSA website or from your financial aid adviser.

In Conclusion

With these few simple grants and maybe a loan, if needed, you should have no problem receiving around $12,500 to $15,000 per year to go to college. If you have any concerns on how to stretch your money in college check out these tips for a less expensive college experience. There are many more grants available, but these are by far the easiest to apply and be eligible for. Please consider all of your grant options before applying for a college loan because you may be eligible for more depending on your High School GPA and/or ACT/SAT scores.

Average Community College Expenses per Year

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    • Pensive_writer profile image

      Pensive_writer 6 years ago from Australia

      So true that many people don't even know what are available to them. I hope there is way to help them how to apply for those grand too.

      Great article.

    • Fenixfan profile image

      Jesse 6 years ago from Mississippi

      Thanks Betty and Str8up. I do hope this helps some of the beginning or returning students. I know I was clueless when I headed off to college for the first time. I was eligible for so many scholarships and didn't even know.

    • Str8up Hookups profile image

      Str8up Hookups 6 years ago

      Great hub full of very useful info.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 6 years ago

      Good to know that deserving youngsters can get some serious help funding their education. And community colleges are a great resource for new college students, as well as for us "oldsters" who are trying to comprehend the brave new technological world.

      Good job, Fenixfan. I hope a lot of families benefit from this hub.