The idea of going to college can be exciting but also terrifying. When you go off on your own, you gain independence and a chance at self-discovery, but you'll be leaving home for the first time, learning how to launder clothes without shrinking them or turning them pink, and figuring out how to make it to the dinning hall so you can feed yourself.
Another thought you may or may not have is how to pay for this new experience-this thought alone may dissuade you from even considering a postsecondary option after high school. Before you disregard college entirely, check out the information below that can help you to figure out how to fund your education.
Ways to Fund College
- Scholarships & Grants: Scholarships and grants are both "free money" options, meaning you DON'T have to pay the money back.
- Grants-tend to be based on need and they consider the financial situation of the student/family
- Scholarships-tend to be based on merit, need or other factors and they consider achievements, talents and abilities of the student
- Work-study: if enrolled in this program, it provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school to help pay for your education expenses. A work study award depends on:
- When You Apply
- Your Level of Financial Need
- Your School's Funding Level
- To see if your college has the work-study program, check with their financial aid office.
- Federal Aid-FAFSA: The FAFSA is the The Free Application for Federal Student Aid which helps to find any need-based financial assistance, and it has to be completed each year of college. Through the FAFSA you can find additional grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. (Iowa College Aid Filing the FAFSA Brochure)
- Loan Types through FAFSA
- Subsidized Loan: interest doesn't accumulate while in college
- Unsubsidized Loan: interest does accumulate while in college
- Direct Plus Loan: parent loans for dependents who are in undergraduate school
- Private Loans: These can be useful if you've hit the federal limit or if, based on family income, you don't have any federal aid options. These are provided by banks, credit unions and other lenders.
Iowa College Aid is an excellent resource for financial aid as well as other college preparation information.
This handout from the High School Financial Planning Program provides a great, but brief, explanation of the different types of aid available.