Whether you are still in high school, are currently an undergrad or are
a returning student, it's never too early to start looking for ways to
pay for school. There are many options open to undergraduate students -
the difficulty is determining which ones work for you.
Some students are able to pay for school
entirely by way of scholarships and grants, but such situations are
rare. Be prepared to borrow money through the Federal Stafford program
and/or work while you attend college. If you are a dependent, then your
parents may also qualify for the Federal PLUS program, so be sure to
have them look into that as well.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be filed in order to
receive any federal funding (ie. Pell Grant, Perkins and Stafford
loans). Whether or not you think you will receive funding, it is a good
idea to file the FAFSA every year. Most students qualify for at least a
$5,500.00 Stafford loan, and may also qualify for grant and work-study
You must file the FAFSA in order to receive
any Federal loan money under the Stafford, Perkins and PLUS loan
programs. To file your FAFSA online go to www.ed.gov
(link will take you to a new website).
Undergraduate students can qualify for a Stafford loan without any
prior credit history. The application process starts with filing the
FAFSA. You will then be notified about your eligibility by way of an
award letter generated by your school's financial aid office. To
complete the process, you need to fill out a Promissory Note in
conjunction with your school and a participating lender.
For many students, Federal Financial Aid will not cover all expenses,
particularly when the PLUS does not apply. If this is the case, you may
want to look into alternative loans.
Every student dreams of paying for college with a full or partial
scholarship - in order to have a chance at receiving any scholarship
funding, you need to be pro-active in applying.
Some other great sources for finding aid are high school guidance
counselors and college financial aid officers. You may also want to
check into the ROTC program, minority organizations and community