College is a big step and it will take a lot to prepare, especially if you plan to move away from your parent’s house for the school year. Before you assume that you will receive enough help for your tuition, you should plan your higher education funding. By doing this, you will know how much money you have, how much you will receive, and how much you need. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the steps you should take.
Free Money is the Best Money
Free money is the best money. We know you are in agreement with us on this one. Who wouldn’t want to receive money to go to school and not have to pay it back? If you are getting excited, you will be happy to know that you can receive free money too!
Grants and scholarships are known as aid and it is available to everyone as long as they qualify. Grants typically require you to have a financial need, but scholarships usually do not.
If you are awarded a grant or scholarship, you do NOT have to pay this money back and you can use it for your books, tuition, or other education-related expenses.
Scholarships are awarded all year long, but you must pay attention to the deadlines and requirements needed to apply. You do not want to apply for something you do not meet the minimum criteria for. You can apply for scholarships as early as your senior year in high school. Most scholarships can be found online, but do make sure to investigate the company to avoid a scam.
Grants usually require a financial need and to see if you qualify for one, you will need to fill out the FAFSA. Always fill it out by the deadline date to ensure you do receive funds, if you qualify.
Ask for Money from Friends and Family
Before you consider any other methods of funding, make sure you take a moment to ask your family and friends if they have any money to put toward your schooling. You may find that there is a college fund setup for you somewhere or you may not. It is important to ask though because you can use everything you receive to pay for school.
If you find out that there is no extra money for you to head off to college, consider asking everyone to provide you with some help for college instead of giving you gifts. For example, instead of new headphones for your birthday, ask for money to apply to school. You may even be able to setup a special account for the money to go into.
Apply for Federal Financial Aid
The next step in the funding process is to check out your available options when it comes to loans. There are two types of loans – subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans have a financial need and are only available to students who demonstrate this need. Unsubsidized loans are available to all students and are not linked to a financial need for the money.
If you do not qualify for the subsidized version, you will likely still qualify for unsubsidized loans. Once you have filled out the FAFSA, you will have a better idea of the amount of money you can expect to receive. Often, this amount is in excess of what you need, but occasionally it may not be enough.
Unfortunately, you cannot negotiate and the maximum loan amount is what you receive. Of course, if you do not need all of the money being offered to you, then you can reject some of it.
Private Student Loans
Your last funding option is through private student loans. It is difficult to obtain these loans and most students need to have a co-signer. You will find that private student loans do not provide you with many benefits and you will have to start paying back the loan right away.
If you are trying to fund your higher education, make sure you explore all free money options first and wait to apply for a loan until you know you absolutely need it.