If you are a senior in high school, or you are the parent of a high school senior, you are likely considering different college options. You may also find yourself stressing about the cost of college. You have several options to explore, such as private colleges, in-state public colleges, and out-of-state public colleges.

The average tuition for each will vary, of course. According to US News, students pay an average of $9,258 for in-state public college, $21,632 for out-of-state public college, and $34,699 for private colleges. Unfortunately, not everyone has the funds to pay for college out-of-pocket, especially college students who are fresh out of high school.

Thankfully, the availability of grants and loans make it easier for students to attend college and pay for the cost. Of course, if you are new to the process, applying for help might seem a bit daunting. On the bright side, filling out applications to receive the financial assistance you need is easier than it seems, especially with some tips, advice, and important info.

Understanding Grants for Students

Generally, you will receive assistance from a financial advisor through the college of your choice. A financial advisor will provide you information that allows you to successfully apply for various sources of financial aid. One such source of assistance is the help of college grants. College students often apply for grants before applying for any other financial aid.

Many people refer to grants as free college money. In other words, you do not have to pay back grant money. Scholarships work the same way in that you do not have to pay them back, but they are also merit-based rather than available to everyone who applies. Grants, on the other hand, are available for all students, though they may come with certain requirements.

Federal Grants

When you apply for school loans, take into consideration your financial need. Many families throughout the United States struggle with their finances. Because of those financial struggles, many of those families worry about the cost of college. If your family struggles financial, consider applying for federal grants.

Federal grants are finances paid for by the government for college students in need. Of course, there are some restrictions. If you are an undergraduate who has not completed a bachelor’s or even a professional degree who also demonstrates financial need, you may be in luck. If you meet those requirements, you may find yourself eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

When figuring out how to apply for school loans and grants, you may also notice the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG. Like the Federal Pell Grant, the FSEOG also has certain restrictions. To qualify, you must be an undergraduate student who displays significant financial need. The amount you receive will depend on your financial need.

A third federal grant option is the Teacher Education Assistant for College and Higher Education Grant, or the TEACH Grant. To qualify for the TEACH grant, you must enroll in certain courses and work in a specific line of work involving education programs, such as teaching. Generally, the student must agree to teach in an academic institution for four years to qualify.

Private Grants

Private grants are also an option. When applying for a school loan, make sure you consider the benefits of private grants. Generally, different companies and organizations will provide private grants to help pay for college. Of course, each company or organization will have specific requirements that ensure you qualify.

As an example, organizations such as churches may offer private grants, but they will require that your parents identify with the religious denomination of the church. Organizations and companies may also offer grants for students whose parents are labor union members. There are several private grants available, and applying for them is a simple process.

College Grants

Finally, you may receive an option to receive college grants. college that accepts you may provide you with a grant based on your merits, which can include good grades, athletic participation, and more. Typically, a college grant will show up on your award letter as a scholarship.

Some colleges will offer a grant without the need for an application. However, you have the option of applying for different college grants using an application process. It is best to speak with your financial advisor or the college’s financial office to find out what grants the college offers and what applications you have to fill out.

Understanding Student Loans

When applying for financial aid, you will discover that student loans are an option. Typically, students will apply for student loans if grants do not provide enough to cover tuition. Also, student loans can help students cover additional costs, such as school supplies and living costs that grants do not cover.

Stafford Loans

There are several different loan options you have, which you will discover when you apply for a school loan. Stafford Loans are one of the most common loans students receive. You can apply for subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

The federal government provides the money to back Stafford Loans using a specific program known as the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, or FDSLP. Although you can choose between subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans, make sure you understand the differences between each before you make your choice.

Subsidized

A subsidized Stafford Loan is usually a student’s first choice because you do not have to make payments on the line until you finish college. The loan does have an interest rate attached to it, but the government covers that rate as long as you remain in college. Of course, a subsidized loan is for students that come from families with financial hardships.

Unsubsidized

An unsubsidized loan offers a fixed interest rate that remains in place while you attend school. You must pay off the interest on the loan since the government does not cover it like they do with the subsidized loan. However, you can defer your loan payments until after you finish college and it is not based on income. Instead, all students can qualify for the loan.

PLUS Loan

A PLUS loans are available for graduate students and their parents. Graduates can apply for the Grad PLUS loan and parents can apply for the Parent PLUS loan. The federal government provides PLUS loans. Students find PLUS loans appealing because you are not limited to a maximum amount and you can use it for expenses that loans and grants will not cover.

Direct Consolidation Loans

A Direct Consolidation Loan is a great option for students who take out loans from multiple providers. Many students, especially those that seek advanced degrees, find themselves borrowing from multiple sources. Unfortunately, that means they make payments to different sources, too.

Keeping track of multiple payments can prove daunting for a college student trying to make their way. A Direct Consolidation Loan consolidates the student’s payment. The loan provider pays the other loans and the student is then responsible for paying that provider for the consolidated amount on the loans.

Private Education Loans

Finally, you have private education loans. A private education loan is a good option for parents and students who cannot afford additional college costs not covered by other grants and loans. Although private loans are a popular option, they are much like traditional loans. Your approval for the loan and the interest that you pay will depend on your credit status.

A private education loan is usually a last resort option for students and parents. Sometimes a private education loan can prove troubling because students will sometimes have to make payments on the loan even while they are still in college.

However, a private education loan is still an option for people who need additional funds. Students who may require extra funds include those who seek a Master’s or Doctorate. Students who aim to become doctors, lawyers, or anything else that requires several years of college are often the ones who seek out a private education loan.

The Application Process

No matter if you choose grants or loans, the application process is relatively simple and straight forward. It may seem complicated, but it is much easier than you might think. Before you fill out your application, make sure you have important information. Typically, first time college students will need information from their parents to fill out the application.

There are special circumstances that may not require information about your parents. Generally, information about your parents will depend on your age and whether you live with them or not or have a family of your own. If you need information about your parents, do not worry. The process is not complicated.

Generally, you will need information such as your name, the name of your parents, your address, phone number, and social security number. You will also need to provide proof of income. You will need to provide the Adjust Gross Income (AGI) found on tax return forms. You will either provide the AGI for your parents or for yourself if you do not need their information.

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