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financial aid

College can be expensive. The price of tuition typically rises every year. If you’re wondering how you’ll pay for school, you’re not alone. Students all over the country are concerned about accumulating debt that will be difficult to pay off after graduation. You don’t have to bury yourself in debt to get a college education – try one of these tips instead.

What Are Federal Student Aid Programs?

The federal government dispenses student loans that you pay back with interest. There are two types of aid you don’t have to pay back however: scholarships and grants. College grants are need-based, so you may need to meet an income threshold to qualify. Here is how the process works:

  • To be eligible for a grant, you first have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on the information you provide, colleges will determine how much money you qualify for. Your federal loan package may be a combination of loans, grants, and work-study options. After filling out your FAFSA, you’ll receive a financial award letter from your school telling you if you’re eligible for any grants. These operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so complete your FAFSA as soon as you can.
  • You can apply money from a college grant to cover the cost of tuition, books, room, board, and other school-related fees.
  • You must complete a new FAFSA every year to maintain your eligibility for grants. Keep in mind, some grants have limits on the number of times you can receive them.
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Types of College Grants

college grantsThere are several different grants available to undergraduate students:

  • The PELL grant is a need-based program that is one of the biggest sources of grant money for students. Grades and extracurricular activities don’t factor into the decision to disburse a PELL grant.
  • TEACH grants can be a good option for students seeking an education degree. They provide grant money to students who agree to teach elementary school for four years in a low-income area.
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants provide additional assistance to low income students who need a lot of extra aid to cover college expenses.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants provide money for college to those who lost a parent or guardian after the events of September 11, 2001 during military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Other Forms of Student Aid

Grants are often not enough to cover the full cost of your college education. There are a couple of other options, such as work-study and scholarships. Scholarships may be need-based or merit-based – check with your school or program of study for available options.

Work-study programs allow you to work in a college or university setting in exchange for tuition or fees. Examples include working in the library, administrative office, or other campus building. Your university can give you an idea of the jobs available and help you find one that suits your interests.

Getting money for college is not always easy, but it’s possible. Try one of these ideas before resorting to student loans.

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