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Apr 29, 2013

College Financial Aid: Who’s Got the Money?

Diane Kummer

The sticker shock of college costs has sent many parents scurrying to find possible sources of financial aid for their college bound teens. Let me help you as you try to sort out the various ways to pay for your teens’ college expenses.

Financial aid falls into three main categories: scholarships (grants), loans, and work study programs. Many families find they need to make use of all three in order to pay for tuition, room, and board fees.

Scholarships or grants are free money that everyone wants to receive because they do not need to be repaid. Colleges, companies, community organizations, and others sponsor scholarships and each scholarship sponsor will determine its eligibility requirements.  Some scholarships are based on a family’s financial situation (need based) while others (merit based) are awarded for excellence in a given area such as music, sports, academic ability, high test scores, community service, and so on.  It is never too early to begin looking for scholarships on a national, state, and local level.

Local public schools usually maintain lists of scholarships that they are willing to share. The list may be provided on the high school’s website, or you may want to ask a friend with children in the public school if they would mind sharing the scholarship list with you.

Education loans are usually made by colleges, banks, credit unions, state or federal governments and carry low interest rates.  Carefully consider how much debt (if any) you are willing to incur.   Some loan repayment terms are deferred meaning that repayment does not begin until the student graduates or ceases to be a full time student.  A federal loan may be subsidized by the government meaning that the interest on the load is paid by the government while the student is in school.

Work study programs may be offered as part of a student’s financial aid package by the college.  Work study offers a student an opportunity to work at a job (usually on campus) in order to defray college expenses.  Jobs on campus eliminate the need for transportation, and campus employers tend to be accommodating to a student’s school and test schedules.

The most important form to complete if you are interested in financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid called the FAFSA.   Financial info that you provide on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Estimated Financial Contribution (EFC).  Colleges receive the EFC on the Student Aid Report that you request the government to send to each college.  Once the FAFSA is initially completed, renewal forms are then submitted each year.

The US Department of Education offers a free booklet entitled Funding Education Beyond High School that explains in detail the financial aid process and provides many helpful tips:

With this overview in mind, check out these links for additional information

Financial Aid Info:

- Taking steps to save money

- Financial Aid information from HSLDA

Scholarship Info:

- Competition and Scholarship awards

- Contests and Competitions

Last, but most importantly, don’t lose sight of the fact that the Lord is your ultimate Provider.  Trust Him to lead you to sources of financial aid.

-Diane

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