Student Financial Aid

Written by Seth Cotterell
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In an increasingly technologically advanced, interconnected, and competitive world, earning a college degree is more important than ever. In order to get a well paying, personally rewarding job it is critical that you receive a college degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Research proves that those who do not will earn significantly less money over the course of their working lives and will work more remedial jobs.

While it is widely agreed that college is necessary, the difficulty often lies in paying for that college degree. College tuition has been steadily rising for many years, and as more money is diverted from education to other government priorities, college costs can only be expected to rise higher. It is fortunate that as tuition costs have increased, so has the availability of additional sources of financial aid.

Without the availability of financial aid, most students could simply not afford the cost of a college degree. As it is, most students will need to utilize a combination of different available types of educational financing just to afford college. Let's review some of the most common types of financial aid available to students.

Types of Financial Aid

Scholarships are some of the best types of financial aid. Scholarships are ideal financing vehicles because they do not have to be repaid. Money is awarded to students without the expectation of reimbursement. Scholarships are awarded for outstanding achievement in a certain area like grades or athletics, or they can be based on financial need. Scholarships for minorities are offered to help individuals in under represented groups earn college degrees.

Grants are another type of free financial aid. Like scholarships, grants do not come with any sort of repayment obligation. Grant eligibility is typically based solely on financial need. Students from low-income families or those with other financial difficulties can qualify for government grants.

Student loans are another source of college financing but they are not free like scholarships and grants. Student loans must be repaid after a student graduates or quits attendance as a full time student. Loans are available through the government or through private banks. Loans can either be subsidized or unsubsidized. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while the student is still enrolled in courses--subsidized loans do not.

Other Types of Financial Aid

Internships are an often overlooked source of college money. Not all internships are paid, but some are and that money is a good supplement to a tight college budget. Internships are also a great way to gain real world experience and participation in internships is often what employers look for when they hire new college grads. College credit is available for nearly all internships.

Applying for Financial Aid

The first thing to do when applying for financial aid is to submit a FAFSA. This is the document the government uses to determine eligibility for federal scholarships, grants, and loans. Once a FAFSA has been submitted, students can then use the Internet to search for additional available financial aid alternatives. It is crucial to keep application deadlines in mind so as not to miss out on any potential financial aid.

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