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2008
30
Nov

College Financial Aid

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by Jimmy Johnson

If you’re on your way to college, one of your biggest concerns is probably “how am I going to pay for all of this?” Debt is a huge problem for college students these days, especially those who are attending private institutions, where person debt can easily reach over $100,000. College financial aid is a tricky business, since over the course of the usual four years of someone’s college career a lot of money is going out but very little is coming back in. College financial aid offices can sometimes help students along, but if you’re already in college when you start thinking about how you’re going to pay for it you’re already behind.

One of the best college financial aid strategies, especially if attending a private college, is to get as many scholarships as possible. Scholarships are a lot more attractive than loans since scholarships represent free money; it never, ever has to be paid back. Most colleges offer both need-based and merit-based financial aid. Need-based aid is usually based on how much money your parents make and how many siblings you have, since your parents are expected to help pay for your education and the education of your siblings. Even if your parents aren’t helping to pay for your education at all, the system still stipulates that they do.

Merit-based financial aid is based on your grades and your activities from high school. Private colleges are much more likely to give out large merit-based scholarships than public colleges since the private schools usually have more donors who set up scholarships in their names or contribute to a certain scholarship fund. These institutional scholarships can cover up to half of your tuition, or more, every year.

Grant can be found in other places so keep your eyes open and be aware. Charities and local societies may have some funds set aside for people going to college and you may qualify for their help. These type of funding sources may be hard to find and may only give out small sums but even small sums mount up and if they are given without you having to pay back that makes them even more valuable.

The last resort for you if you come up short is a student loan. The Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) will give you information about the sort of loans which you can apply for. There will be a financial aid office at your college and they will have a lot of experience with these issues and will be able to help you to go for the right loans. They will also give tell you about repayment schedules and timescales. Thinking of all the money involved in paying for college may be daunting but its money well spent and a real investment in your future.

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