Financial Aid For College

Written by Tara Peris
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Finding financial aid for college is not so much difficult as it is time consuming. There are countless resources designed to offset the cost of a college education, and the key is to use them to your advantage. A judicious combination of fellowships, loans, and student work aid can help most students through college without undue financial hardship.

The first step to finding financial aid for college is to determine what type of school your child will be attending. This does not mean waiting until he or she has accepted an offer from Yale or Princeton, but rather, thinking carefully about your child's college needs and prospects at the start of the application process. Although there are numerous ways to narrow the college search by focusing on factors like size, location, and reputation, from a financial standpoint, you'll want to think about whether it is a public or private school your child is likely to attend.

Rising College Costs

The average cost of both public and private schooling has risen exponentially in recent years. However, there is great variability within these categories, with major public universities like UCLA, Michigan, and University of Virginia being more expensive than some of their smaller counterparts. Similarly, the cost of a private school education varies considerably, with some small colleges charging around $12,000 a year and the Ivy League schools charging over $36,000 for tuition, room, and board.

In order to plan for educational expenses and to seek out the most appropriate aid packages, you must get a sense of the kind of debt with which you're dealing. You must determine how much money you will need over the course of four years, and use this ballpark estimate to guide your decision making. Funding sources are plentiful, but you must pick the ones that best suit your financial needs.

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