Your College Financial Aid Resource Guide!

Going to college is an investment in a bright future. The college years are a chance to meet new people, experience different cultures, build self-confidence, and explore new interests. By earning a degree, learners develop a deeper base of knowledge about the world and get a chance to refine career and life goals. Research also shows that college graduates earn much more than those who only complete high school and are less likely to be unemployed. Although a college education is the means of making money, it can also be expensive. According to the College Board, college costs are on the rise. The College Board Trends in College Pricing 2011 report shows that the cost of tuition can be over $8,000 at a public four-year university. Out of state tuition prices can average over $20,000. Costs go up even higher for private schools with tuition costing a student more than $28,000.

Of course, these prices do not even reflect the full cost of earning a college degree. Students staying on campus also have to pay for room and board. Books, lab fees, and parking permits are other college costs that may also apply. These costs, however, should not deter anyone interested from going to college. There are lots of resources in place to ensure that anyone who is genuinely interested in going to college can afford it.

Ways of paying for college include aid in the form of grants, work-study, and loans provided by the federal government. The federal government provides more aid to students than any other sources, offering billions each year to reduce financial obligations. These funds can be used for tuition and to help cover other expenses like transportation costs. The particular eligibility requirements and amount of aid offered differ for each program. The Federal Pell Grant, for instance, is only given to students who have not yet earned a bachelor or higher level degree. These grants do not have to be repaid. A Federal Perkins Loan, however, has to be repaid and is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to federal funds, you can find college funds through scholarships, grants, and loans offered from corporations, nonprofits, and directly from the college enrolled in. Of all financial aid options, scholarships have the widest range. There are lots of national and local scholarships that can be found along with scholarships based on major, age, ethnicity, sexuality, and other criteria. Tools like budgeting worksheets and college cost planners are also useful in helping you determine how much college will cost and how much financial aid will be necessary. By preplanning and remaining tenacious, affording college costs is possible. The following resources can simplify the financial aid search.

Scholarships

Grants

Student Loans

College Planning Tools