But How Will I Pay For It?

Let’s face it — the biggest roadblocks to attending college are financial ones. There are lots of potential funding sources available.

The most important factor in almost all of these sources is the deadline for each. Start early! So many sources rely on your FAFSA (the Federal Application for Student Aid), and the Florida FAFSA deadline is earlier than the federal one. Both are usually in the spring prior to the academic year for which you need funding.

       
       

Scholarships are essentially gifts or awards made to individuals based on selective criteria.

• Don’t need to be repaid

• Look great on a resume or grad school application

• Reward students for their achievements and talents

• Tons of potential options

• Application process can be time-consuming

• Each application requires original materials

• Self-directed process (stay organized and on top of deadlines)

• Can be small amounts (but they add up!)

• Talk to your high school guidance counselor, your teachers or advisor, even your friends’ parents.

• Contact local civic organizations, places of worship, regional or national charitable
foundations, and your city and state websites.

• Start with your interests, talents, and achievements! What do you love? Where do you excel or stand out? Then turn to the internet!

Grants
are offered by schools and organizations, plus the U.S. government.

• Don’t need to be repaid

• Based on need

• Federal grants automatically awarded

• Many potential options

• Can be in significant amounts

• Must reapply each year

• Early deadlines

• Federal Pell Grants are awarded automatically based on your family’s financial need, as determined by your FAFSA. The online FAFSA4caster gives you a sneak peak of how much you may qualify for in the coming year.

• Colleges and charitable foundations may also offer grants, so reach out to them as soon as possible.

Financial aid can include tuition, campus employment, and assistance with books, housing, and dining plans.

• Don’t need to be repaid

• Can make a huge difference in amount owed

• Automatically awarded based on FAFSA

• May have limitations, e.g., number of credit hours required, available dining locations, residence on campus

• The campus Financial Aid office is your primary point of contact for all forms of funding, apart from off-campus jobs. They can even tell you about available scholarships and grants!

work-study programs are government-run
and allow colleges to employ students part-time in exchange for modest pay.

• Automatically awarded based on FAFSA

• Pays students directly

• Fosters relationships with professionals and experts in a variety of fields

• Get to know people on campus

• Tax-free earnings

• Not all jobs are glamorous or related to course of study

• Earnings are relatively small

• Eligible students will be notified by the Office of Financial Aid — if they have completed the FAFSA on time.

part-time
off-campus jobs allow students to work while going to college.

• Can provide a more livable wage than work-study

• Offers valuable experience

• Starts the networking process

• Can be tough to strike a balance between work and school

• Taxable if above federal limit

• Requires more hours, often nights and weekends

• Hiring websites like Indeed.com and
Monster.com are a good place to start searching, but many college students simply ask about job openings at local businesses.

Federal student loan programs are designed to fill in the gaps left after all other sources of funding have been applied.

• Don’t need to be repaid while enrolled in school

• Remainders disbursed to students directly after tuition and expenses paid

• Simple application process, linked to FAFSA

• Must be repaid in full, starting 6 months after leaving school (with or without a degree)

• Available only to students enrolled full-time

• Large disbursal amounts can be tempting

• Unsubsidized loans can accrue huge amounts of interest before repayment

• As college costs continue to rise, so does student loan debt. Although these loans can be helpful and necessary, you should borrow the absolute minimum that you need. The ripple effects of student loan debt can be long-lasting and far-reaching, and these costs may well outweigh the benefit of attending a school outside of your financial comfort range. Be judicious!

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