My advice to everyone trying to come up with a good financial aid plan for college or graduate school is to start with the federal aid programs first and exhaust them before (if necessary) going to anything else.
Within the federal system, you need to look at grants and maximize them first, before you move on to loans. As they do not need to be paid back, the more of the cost paid by them, the less debt you will have upon graduation.
But what grants are available, and how much can you get from them? Here they are:
- Pell Grants
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- TEACH Grants
- Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants
These grants are needs based, so the amount you can receive (if you qualify) varies. Take a look at each of them to see whether you qualify and how much of your cost of attendance they will cover.
There are a few things to bear in mind with these grants, however.
- Not all schools participate in all of the programs, so be sure you check with your school.
- The FSEOG program is limited in how much money is awarded. Each school receives a certain amount of FSEOG grant money, and when it is gone, it is gone. So apply for that one first!
- TEACH grants come with some strings attached, so even if you intend to be a teacher, be sure that you are willing to meet the requirements of the program before you apply. If you fail to meet him, your grant will be converted to a loan, and you will have to pay it back.
If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.
For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.
You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!