Attending college and getting a degree is a fantastic option for anyone who is looking to gain more life experience while at the same time making themselves more employable. If all goes to plan, then a college degree should help you to secure a better paying job and higher salary. That makes it an investment – so you should earn back more than you spend.
But with the cost of studying getting higher and higher all the time, that initial investment is getting more challenging. If you don’t have the money to spend, how can you attend a college in the first place?
Fortunately, there are numerous federal financial aid options available to help. Read on to see your options and to find the assistance you need to fulfil your potential.
The Office of Federal Student Aid
The Office of Federal Student Aid is going to be the best option for a large number of prospective students. They offer students over $150 billion in financial aid every year in the form of grants, loans and study funds. These can be used to pay for tuition but also accommodation, books and supplies; any expense related to life as a student and getting a qualification.
To get started you need to fill out the ‘FAFSA’. This is the ‘Free Application for Federal Student Aid. List each school you’re interested in and you’ll receive an award letter from each of them. This letter will outline the different federal and non-federal financial aids and that in turn will be based upon your current financial situation, the school you intend to study at and even the subject.
Types of Federal Student Aid
When you receive your reward letters, you will find a number of options that fall under the ‘Federal’ heading. These may include:
A grant is an amount of money that you don’t have to pay back. This may not always be enough to cover the costs on its own but it can certainly offset some of the expense.
Federal Student Loan
A Federal Student Loan is just like any other own. That means you’ll receive a sum of money upfront but will then be required to pay back that loan over time. You can also take out private loans but note that federal options offer have better rates and lower interest. They also commonly don’t charge until you’re earning above a certain amount. This is usually the best place to look first.
If you take out a federal student loan, you’ll also be given a loan servicer, who can help you to work out a repayment plan that works for you. You can sometimes defer payments and even deduct interest in your taxes. In some cases, you’ll even find your loan is ‘forgiven’ if you enter certain industries.
Finally, you can apply for a work-study job. This allows eligible undergraduates and post-graduates to work and earn at least the minimum wage in order to pay their way through college or school.