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.
(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.
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!
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