Paying for College

Most college students need some type of financial aid and the process to get the money needed can be overwhelming and confusing. To ensure you understand your options and stay organized, take a look at our Financial Aid Timeline. This timeline gives you key steps in the financial aid process, and as a general rule, you should start planning a year in advance.

College costs include far more than just tuition. When you apply for Federal Student Aid, your college uses your Cost of Attendance (COA) in determining your financial aid award. The COA is the total amount it will cost a student to go to school. To calculate for your specific needs, start by estimating the total cost of college including tuition, books and living expenses, etc. Once you have estimated the total cost of your education and living expenses, look at the savings you may have available. If you find there is a gap between what is saved and your estimated costs, explore those options available while going through the process of paying for college.

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)- This is where your search for financial aid starts. Filling out the FAFSA will determine your eligibility for federal student loans and grants.
  • Scholarships and Grants Another great way to pay for college is searching and applying for scholarships and grants. These financial aid resources typically do not have be repaid.
  • Student Loans - Once you have completed the FAFSA and are possibly awarded a few scholarships/grants, a gap may still exist. First you will want to understand and choose the federal student loan options that become available to you after you complete the FAFSA. If a gap still remains when you exhaust your federal student loan maximum eligibility, a private student loan can cover that remaining balance.

Student loans are a big responsibility and you are required to repay them. Check out our Student Loan Repayment page to learn more.

Here are some of things to consider when you are trying to offset the cost of college:

  • Will you be able to work part-time during college? Check with your financial aid office to see if you are eligible for the Federal work-study program.
  • Do you plan to find employment outside of school? If so, check with potential employers' Human Resources to see if they have a tuition assistance program. Make sure you note any rules their program may have including minimum G.P.A., length of employment, required number of hours worked, etc.
  • Are you eligible for potential tax benefits that can help offset your college expense? Consult a tax advisor for details.

You are not alone with your questions about paying for college. Our Frequently Asked Questions page and Financial Aid Glossary can answer your questions and help you understand the terms within the financial aid process. Still have questions? Call us at 800-666-3910!


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