An important consideration that many students have to take into account when looking to earn a college degree is the financial cost of such a program. Especially in today’s economy, such costs are not to be taken lightly, and for many potential students these costs determine how much a student can fully commit to an academic program.
As a former student, I can attest to the challenges that go along with paying for an education. Fortunately, there are many options to help you overcome those challenges.
Probably the best source of aid you can easily get comes in the form of federally backed student loans. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, handles all of the federal student aid programs. These programs include Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans for parents of students, and grants. Often these loan programs offer incentives for students that make taking out a federal education loan much easier: lower interest rates, grace periods to help you defer payment, and even subsidized loans, the interest for which the government covers while the student is in school. For more information regarding these loans, please visit the Federal Student Aid website.
Grants and scholarships are another form of popular aid, and many are especially coveted because they do not have to be repaid. However, because of this, many grants and scholarships are competitive or specialized. For example, the federal government offers grants for military veterans or students in educational programs. Individual institutions also offer grants and scholarships, based on merit, athletic ability, economic need, and race and gender. Before you apply for a grant or scholarship make sure you meet all of the eligibility requirements. For more information on grants and scholarships, talk to an admissions officer at your school. Also check out some of the free scholarship databases, such as Scholarships.com.
In addition to receiving financial aid or scholarships, students can also choose to work while they attend classes. Obviously, this brings a completely new setoff factors to consider when thinking about your college career, so carefully weigh your income options. Can you afford to divert your attention from your academics? How much income can you live off of while in an academic program? In some programs, it’s possible to work part-time, or even full-time, while attending classes. Other schools might discourage such activity. In any case, you should also consider looking into whether or not you qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. For more information about the Federal Work-Study Program, visit the Department of Education.