There are good, well-paying jobs available for folks who don’t go to college, but having a degree does open doors. The process of navigating through the process of paying for your degree can be overwhelming, particularly your freshman year and if you don’t have someone to advise you. Just know that there are many different options available to you.
Start With the FAFSA
The first step in getting financial aid to help pay for your educational costs is to complete the FAFSA. This form is required to receive any assistance from the government and most colleges. The good news is that each school you are considering can use the same FAFSA form. When completing the form, you are given the option to have it sent to the colleges you are interested in. This allows the financial aid office to start working on a package for you.
See What You Are Offered
Once you start to receive financial aid offers, you may realize that attending college is within your reach after all. One thing that may surprise you as you review these offers is that the colleges that are more expensive on paper may not be more expensive once you see your aid package. The amount of assistance provided by each school depends on many factors, so don’t limit your choice to the least expensive options.
Make Up the Difference
The financial aid packages will include a variety of types of aid, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Grants and scholarships do not need to be repaid, while the federal student loans will have repayment terms. It is common for there to be a difference between the amount of money in the student aid package and the actual cost of school. You can make up this difference in several ways. Working over the summers and during the school year will allow you to cut down on the balance owed. If the package provided by the school covers nearly all of your costs, you may choose to go this route.
Working during the school year and the summer between terms isn’t the best choice for everyone. Depending on your major, you may need to devote your free time to your studies. You may also prefer to spend your time partaking in the traditional college experience. Make the choice that works best for you. Regardless of whether you owe a little or a lot when you receive your financial aid packages, private student loans allow you to fill the gap. There is no borrowing cap as there is with federal loans. If you are wondering what student loans can be used for, there are a variety of expenses they can cover. While the use of student loans is directed to educational expenses, that can be widely interpreted. After paying for your tuition, room, and board, you will receive the balance of the loan. You can use it for living expenses, including transportation, childcare, and other costs you incur.