Attending college isn't cheap, but it doesn't mean you
can't afford to go!
There are many programs that can help finance your
education including scholarships, grants, work-study
programs, student loans, and military education programs.
This section of our site will provide an overview of how
these types of educational financial aid work and supply the
basic information you will need to get started.
Financial aid is available from many sources including
the federal government, state governments, colleges and
universities, and numerous private organizations. The
federal government funds the majority of aid, so it makes
sense to apply for federal financial aid first, then pursue
the other sources available to you.
Applying for financial aid can be a pretty intimidating
process. There are forms to fill out, procedures to follow,
and deadlines to meet. It's important to read and follow all
directions carefully, meet your deadlines, and ask questions
when you don't understand something.
The College Financial Aid Office - An Important
The financial aid office at the school that you are
considering is a valuable resource for help. Financial aid
administrators will guide you through paperwork and help you
understand the process of applying for and receiving
financial aid. They are there to offer assistance with
filling out forms properly, finding scholarships, and
providing information about the variety of programs that
might be available to you.
Financial aid staff provide this assistance at no cost to
students. They provide these services because they want to
help students realize their educational goals while
minimizing the financial burden that comes with it.
Don't overlook utilizing their assistance to get the
financial aid you need.
Types of Financial Aid
Federal & State Financial Aid
The U.S. government is the single largest provider of
financial aid for higher education, supplying approximately
70% of all student-aid dollars. To qualify for federal
financial aid for college, families must complete the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Everyone
applying for federal or state assistance will need to fill
out the FAFSA
Grant - Aid for low-income undergraduates. No minimum
grade-point average or other academic requirements. Amount
of grant depends on the estimated amount you or your family
are expected to contribute, the cost of attendance, whether
you are a full-time or part-time student and whether you'll
be in school for a full academic year.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) - The
FSEOG program provides grants to low-income undergraduate
students with exceptional financial need to supplement aid
received from Pell grants and other sources. Schools
distribute the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity
Grant (FSEOG) to students based on financial need. Part-time
and full-time undergraduate students are eligible for this
Loan - The federal loan for students is called the
Stafford Loan. There are 2 types - Federal Family Education
Loan Program (FFELP) and Federal Direct Student Loan Program
(FDSLP). These loans have low interest rates and do not
require credit checks or collateral. Student loans also
provide a variety of deferment options and extended
repayment terms. To apply for a Stafford Loan, you must
submit the FAFSA.
Loans (Parent Loans) - Parents who have an acceptable
credit history can borrow for a PLUS eligible program and
school. Get forms from the financial aid office at your
Financial Aid Directory - U.S. Department of Education
directory of state higher education agencies where you can
learn about state financial aid assistance programs, grants,
Don't dismiss the possibility of getting a scholarship to
help pay for your Online Education! You may not fully
realize your scholarship potential. Everyone is good at
something, and there's usually money around somewhere to
support it. Get ready to spend some time researching - there
are thousands of scholarships available!
Check with the guidance office at the school you plan on
attending. This is usually the best place to start a local
Investigate private scholarships. Your best chance for
receiving a private scholarship is from your local
community. Private scholarships are awards that are
offered by private or corporate entitities.
Check with your or your parents employers. They may
already have a program, or, under some instances, may be
willing to start one just for you.
There are many alternatives to scholarships. You will
find many "awards" and "contests"
around that require nothing more than signing up for a
newsletter or participating in a short poll. However, read
you may be opening the door to unwanted spam or worse.
Don't pay for information you can get for free. There
are sites that promise to supply you with a list of
scholarship matches that are only available through paid
membership. In most instances, these programs provide the
same information you can find on other "free"
Beware of scholarship scams - Avoid scholarship offers
that ask you to send money up front, scholarships for
profit, advance-fee loans, require disbursement or
redemption fees, and any other offers that seem "too
good to be true" - they probably are!
Military Financial Aid
Military financial aid is available for online
education. In fact, distance learning is highly utilized
and encouraged. Distance education makes it possible for
enlisted and veterans to earn a degree or train for a
career online - no matter where they are stationed.
Bill Education Benefits - The MGIB program provides
up to 36 months of education benefits.
Assistance (TA) - Allows enlisted servicemembers to
enroll in courses at accredited colleges, universities,
junior colleges, high schools, and vocational-technical
Opportunity Colleges (SOC) - SOC is a consortium of
more than 1550 colleges and universities that provide
educational opportunities for servicemembers and their
and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
- The DEA program provides up to 45 months of education
and training opportunities to eligible dependents of
Benefits for Veterans and Dependents - Updated
annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the
publication Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents
contains information about education and training
benefits available to veterans and eligible dependents.
Few students can afford to pay for college without
some kind of supplemental financing. Scholarships,
grants, work-study and other forms of aid often do not
cover the full cost of a college education.
Education loans can be separated into 5 catagories:
student loans, parent loans, private loans,
alternative loans and consolidation loans. An overview
of these loan types are outlined below.
Since the federal government provides the majority
of financial aid to students and the costs are often
times less than that of alternative loan programs, you
should investigate your options for federal funding
Federal Government Student Loan Programs
(Stafford Loans) - Many students rely on federal
government loans to finance their educations. These
loans have low interest rates and do not require
credit checks or collateral. Student loans also
provide a variety of deferment options and extended
repayment terms. To apply for a Stafford Loan, you
must submit the Free Application for Federal Student
Aid (FAFSA). Learn
Federal Government Parent Loan Programs -
Parents of dependent students can take out loans to
supplement their children's aid packages. The federal
Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) lets
parents borrow money to cover any costs not already
covered by the student's financial aid package, up to
the full cost of attendance. Like the Stafford Loan,
PLUS loans are either FFELP (provided by private
lenders, such as banks) or Direct (funds provided by
Private Loans - Some families turn to
private loans when the federal loans don't provide
enough money or when they need more flexible repayment
options. For example, a parent might want to defer
repayment until the student graduates. Lenders can
provide different types of private loans depending on
the student's level of study, financial status, future
earning potential and other factors. Private loans
tend to cost more than loans offered by the Federal
government, but not in all instances, so shop around!
Alternative Loans - Alternative loans
include home equity loans, lines of credit, and
borrowing from retirement funds. Because of the
potential trade-offs involved, you should always
consider the other options available to you before
proceeding with alternative financing. If you are
pursuing an alternative loan because of bad credit,
you should consider applying for a PLUS loan anyway.
If you are denied a PLUS loan for credit reasons, your
child becomes eligible for higher Stafford loan
Consolidation Loans - A consolidation loan
combines several student or parent loans into one
larger loan from a single lender, which is then used
to pay off the balances on the other loans.
Consolidation loans are available for most federal
loans, including FFELP (Stafford, PLUS and SLS), FISL,
Perkins, Health Professional Student Loans, NSL, HEAL,
Guaranteed Student Loans and Direct loans. Some
lenders offer consolidation loans for private loans as