How Do I Get Aid From My College?

When it comes to getting financial aid directly from the college of your choice, you have several options. These include loans from the college, grants, athletic and academic scholarships, and work-study programs. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for aid from each of these sources, or you might find that none works for your scenario. If you require financial assistance, it’s always in your best interest to find information about and apply to as many programs as possible.

Get a Loan From Your College or University

While an overwhelming majority of college students secure financial aid from the federal government via the FAFSA®, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, it’s not the only way to secure a loan. A number of colleges offer their own loans to prospective students. Known as an institutional loan, this type of financial aid comes straight from a college or university.

However, it comes with certain caveats over other types of financial aid. In most cases, the interest rate for undergraduates hovers around 5 percent, but it could also feature a variable rate to adjust for the federal interest rate. In addition, the loan typically requires a co-signer, as students don’t usually have the credit history or financial means to warrant a loan on their own.

Secure a Grant

Grants are an excellent way to get financial aid from your school, especially if you don’t meet the stringent requirements necessary to secure a scholarship. The difference between scholarships and grants is that grants are almost always based solely on financial need rather than merit. This enables financially disadvantaged students to obtain aid to attend college. Once you get the grant, most universities require you to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) and keep a specified amount of credit hours. Grants are almost always open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Earn a Scholarship

Whether you’re a phenomenal athlete or a gifted student, colleges may pay for you to come to their schools. To these universities, bringing in the best and brightest on the field and in the classroom translates to higher enrollment numbers in the future. If you’re an athlete, you can get a partial or full scholarship depending on your skill level and the university. Remember that Division III schools are not allowed to give athletic scholarships, and any pending offer to play for one of these schools will depend on your academics and financial aid package.

If you have a high GPA, excellent standardized test scores, or a combination of the two, you could be eligible for a merit-based academic scholarship. The requirements for these scholarships vary from school to school, and they can pay for all or part of your tuition, books, and accommodation.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs are arrangements that allow a student to work while going to school. Most of these are federal programs, but many colleges also now offer work-study programs. The main advantage is that it minimizes the loans that need repayment after graduation.

Although these types of aid are widely available from colleges and universities throughout the country, it’s important to check with your preferred college to ensure it has just what you need. Once you know what it has to offer, you’re well-equipped to choose the path that’s best for your future.