financial mumbo jumbo

"Financial Aid Mumbo Jumbo Explained"

Applying for financial aid is very much like filling out tax forms. While there is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, there are a few essential concepts and terms which you need to know in order to understand the process.

The first thing to understand is that financial aid comes in various forms from the government, colleges, and private organizations. These include:

Grants Or Scholarships--Money with no strings attached--meaning you don't have to pay it back. This is really the equivalent of hitting the financial aid jackpot.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)--(Formerly College Work-Study) The government will help subsidize your salary for jobs during the semester. This means you will have an easy time finding work on and off campus since you will be cheap labor (your employer will only have to pay part of your salary, with the government picking up the rest.) The downside is, of course, that since you will have to work you will have less time to goof off!

Low-Interest Or Deferred-Interest Loans--These are the easiest to qualify for but that's because they must be paid back with interest. However, you will find that the terms can be fairly generous. To receive these you complete a loan application. When your application is approved, you sign a promissory note, promising to repay the money.

There are also two general criteria for getting money for college. The first is called need based. From the various financial aid forms that you submit, the colleges and government will determine how much you (that's right you are expected to contribute to your own education) and your parents can afford to pay. The difference between this number and the annual cost of your college education will be your financial need, which will be met by a combination of grants, work-study, and loans.

The second criterion is merit based. Merit based aid is awarded for skills or talents that are not related to students' financial need. For example, students can win scholarships from colleges based on their athletic, leadership, or academic achievement.

Besides money from colleges and the government, another important source of financial aid is outside scholarships. These can be need based, merit based or both and are sponsored by various private groups. Outside scholarships often require the most work but are also some of the more lucrative. Proof: One student we know won over $100,000 in merit-based outside scholarships!

Thank you for visiting,

Al Brouillard

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