As far as most colleges and universities within the United States are concerned, tuition continues to raise each and every academic year. Unless a prospective student possesses enough of his or her own funds to cover the tuition of his or college of choice, or unless the college-bound students parents have enough money to cover their child’s tuition, most students set on entering college has to have some form of financial aid. Although the amount of federal student aid does not seem to be meeting the steady increase in tuition rates – and, in some cases, seems to be decreasing in direct proportion to the increase in tuition – there are so many ways for students to receive financial aid, and so many kinds available to receive.
To begin with, there are a wide array of scholarships available. Generally offered to students who possess high academic and scholastic achievements, athletic achievements, or artistic talents, scholarships can be awarded from any number of institutions, companies, and databases. A student’s high school may have scholarships available, and in a lot of cases, colleges and universities have scholarships available as well – some of which can even cover the entire cost of tuition. Typing “scholarship” into a search engine will introduce prospective students to numerous web sites with huge databases of scholarships available. Whether they are large or small, a student should try to win as many scholarships as he or she can, as this is money that does not have to be paid back and can thus do a world of good. Grants do not have to be paid back either and many of them, such as Pell Grants, are awarded to students who exhibit a great need for financial aid and assistance. When compiling a financial aid package, students are encouraged to go for as many scholarships and grants as possible, because “free” money is the best money.
There are also many financial aid packages provided in the form of federal student loans. In order to qualify for these, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. FAFSA is essential, and most colleges require students to fill out and file the form, in order to determine what kind of financial aid they can receive. Some of the most common types of federal student loans are Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans, but there are also a variety of other loans available.
Parents may borrow money for their children, as well. Generally referred to as parent PLUS loans, this form of financial aid is usually determined by the parents’ credit score(s). Parents can pay these back themselves, or put the loan on deferment and allow the child to pay it back after he or she graduates from college.
There are also numerous private scholarships available. In general, these are offered through third-party companies and have substantially higher interest rates than federal student loans. However, if a student’s financial aid package is not enough to cover his or her tuition, then private student loans can be ideal to bridge the gap between the financial aid package and the total cost for college.