Financial Aid/Scholarships

Due to the ever-increasing costs of a college education, extensive planning and research needs to be done in regards to how students and families plan on paying for their education. Based on the current tuition, room and board and other associated fees, the price tag for a four-year education at some private colleges can be as high as $140,000.00. Even the cost of four years at a state college or university can require up to $40,000.00. If your parents began planning for financing your college degree long before you were out of pre-school and they made good investments and financial decisions, you are very lucky and unusual! Most families, despite planning and because of the high cost of living and raising a family, don't have the money to pay all the costs associated with a college education. Nearly all families, regardless of their wealth or financial hardship, need to learn about all the options for reducing the cost of a degree.

As you begin to learn about the various programs that are available to cover college costs, you are likely to find yourself dazed and confused. There are a huge variety of organizations, institutions and agencies that can let you know where the money is and how you can get it. However, you must first understand the different types of financing that are available and how you may or may not qualify for funds. 

  • start learning about financial aid for college, as early in your high school career as possible
  • attend open meetings at your high school, local colleges and banking/financial groups where you can learn about financial aid; always look into the reputation of the agency or company that is sponsoring the meeting or workshop; be cautious of any group that guarantees you money or that asks for your credit card before they can give you any information
  • ensure your good credit rating, request a copy of you and your family's credit report from a national credit bureau
  • confer with a personal financial advisor from a reputable company who can advise you regarding your financial status and provide you with suggestions about your current investments, give you ideas on future investments or develop a plan for redistribution of your existing assets and liabilities
  • use a variety of sources to learn about the various organizations and agencies that typically provide aid; read financial aid listings in your local library; contact local special interest groups and clubs in your community, trade associations, business and fraternal organizations, determine if your employer provides any educational benefits or if your parent's employer participates in educational benefits for dependents
  • research the availability of special state programs that finance the education of students in particular fields of study, provided the student agrees to work within a particular profession in the region or state
  • ask the various colleges that you are applying to about their scholarships, grants, loans and work study programs
  • carefully review the various loan, grant and scholarship options that are available from all of the suggested sources; know what programs you qualify for; "qualifiers" are often based on your family income, household expenditures/financial liabilities, or, in some cases, your individual accomplishments (GPA/SATs, athletic ability, etc)
  • get copies of the forms that you will need to complete if you are planning on applying for any kind of state, federal or college based funds; these forms would include the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA) and may include the CCS/Financial Aid Profile(these forms are on file in your guidance office)
  • using the information that you supply on the financial aid forms, your estimated family contribution(EFC) will be deducted from the cost in order to arrive at an amount of your financial need
  • find out the deadlines for submission of your financial aid application at any of the schools you are applying to
  • when a school informs you of their financial aid package, it will likely include a variety of different types of aid, including: loans, grants, scholarships and/or work study programs; if done with tact, you can attempt to negotiate a better package with one school if you have received a better offer from another school; however, it is important to note that such attempts don't often meet with success
  • remember to plan how everything is going to be paid off, either by the student, parents or both parties; you don't want to overburden either students or parents with payment schedules that are unrealistic, based on earning potentials in the future and other expenses involved in daily living.