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Financial Aid and Scholarship

Still figuring out how to pay for college?

From university scholarships to federal loan programs, the following are some common types of financial aid for undergraduate students.

1.  Apply for financial aid (FAFSA)

     Even if you don't think you'll qualify, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  This process is on a first come first served.  Students can start applying as early as October 1st.  Students can also visit the career center for assistance on how to fill out a FAFSA and how to get a FAFSA pin.

2.  Apply for a Scholarship

     Scholarships are merit-based.  They consider your grades, talent, or service.  These funds do not need to be paid back.

  • University scholarships - Universities often earmark scholarship dollars every year for undergraduates.  Students need to check the universities' webpage to find out more about the available scholarships and application deadline.
  • Private Scholarships - Some trusted resources include Fast WebCollege Board, Sallie Mae, etc. A private scholarship might affect the rest of your financial aid package, so notify the university's office of financial services if you're awarded one.

3.  Apply for a College Grant

     Like scholarships, college grants are need-based and don't have to be repaid. So, what's the difference between a grant and scholarship? College grants for undergraduates are provided by non-profit organizations - often the federal and state governments - and are often tax-exempt.

4.  College Work Study

     Work study is another form of federal financial aid that allows undergraduates to earn money for college through a part-time on campus. Students get a bi-weekly paycheck working an average of 15 hours a week. Students should check with the university's financial aid office to find more information about what's availalbe through the instutition.  Find out more about work study.

5.  Federal Student Loans

     The bad news: federal student loans have to be repaid. Students don't have to begin immediately after you graduate college and most student loans are low- or no-interest. The Perkins Loan  and the subsidized Direct Loan, offered by the federal government, are the best student loans for undergraduates, followed by the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan.

6.  Private Student Loans

     Private student loans are not federally funded and often have variable interest rates that aren't capped.  It is best to explore other college financial aid options first. If you do pursue this route, look into a ParentPLUS loan or an alternative loan in your own name. Remember to spend wisely. To determine how much you can afford borrow for college, visit

7.  Find an official benefactor

     AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services CorpsROTC programs, and Teach for America offer college money in exchange for a service commitment.

8.  Consider this...

  • Applying to plenty of schools would mean that you might have a better chance of getting into more than one.  Furthermore, getting into more than one often translates to a higher likelihood of receiving a big financial aid package.
  • Live at home - Starting out at a low-cost community college and transferring to a four-year college for the final two years will wipe away a large amount of room and board costs as well as some tuition.
  • Tax tricks - Students can take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Liftetime Learning Credit.