Given the potential for earning significantly more over one’s lifetime, a college degree is a worthwhile investment. Research shows that the earnings difference between a 28 year old Bachelor’s degree recipient and a high school graduate is typically more than $400 a week or over $20,000 more a year. Nonetheless, figuring out ways to pay for college can be challenging. Beyond personal savings, there are four basic sources for college financial aid:
- Federal student aid
- State of Ohio aid
- Institutional aid
- Aid from outside organizations
Sources of Financial Aid
Federal Student Aid
A student must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for need-based assistance from the federal government. If qualified, this assistance can come in the form of student loans, grant money or possibly a work award for a job on campus. The FAFSA can be filed online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
State of Ohio Aid
The State of Ohio has grant programs designed to give students money for college expenses. Eligibility for most of these programs is also based on FAFSA results. Visit http://www.ohiohighered.org/sgs for more information.
Each college sets its own criteria for institutional aid. Admitted students might be eligible for aid based on academic achievement, artistic ability, leadership, demonstrated need and a host of other factors. Applicants should check with each college individually about what opportunities might be a match for them. It is critical to meet the priority deadlines set by each institution to be eligible.
Aid from Outside Organizations
Local, state and national businesses, charities, churches, foundations and other groups offer money each year to help students attend college.
It is often best to start your search with sources close to home. A Call to College offers need-based Last Dollar Grants
for qualified graduates. The Newark High School counseling office posts lists of available scholarships on Naviance and sometimes has the applications on hand.
In addition, the Licking County Foundation
has multiple scholarships that target qualified NHS graduates.
Talking with friends who have already headed off to college is another great resource for investigating possible scholarship opportunities.
Types of Financial Aid
The term scholarship refers to gift money that does not need to be paid back. Oftentimes this money is awarded on the basis of academic achievement, test scores, special talents or unique characteristics. Some scholarships may require that a student maintain a certain grade point average once in college. Scholarships can come from the college itself or outside organizations.
The term grant refers to gift money awarded on the basis of need, most often as determined by the FAFSA.
For many students it becomes necessary to borrow money to help finance the cost of college. The first option to consider are loans offered through the federal student loan program. By filing a FAFSA, a student will automatically be eligible for a subsidized (interest free) and/or unsubsidized (interest charged) loans. Loans must be repaid after the student leaves college or graduates. In addition, parent or alternative student loans may also be available. Families are encouraged to borrow only what they NEED to cover the cost of education. To complete a Bachelor's degree, we recommend that students and families keep their total borrowing at or under $27,000.
Through the FAFSA, students may qualify for the Federal Work-study Program which allows them to seek campus employment and work a limited number of hours throughout the school year. Paychecks are either disbursed directly to the student or the student can arrange to have these funds deposited into their account and thereby credit their bill. Eligible students are encouraged to participate in work-study, but are advised to limit total work hours (work-study and off-campus) to 10-15 per week.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
This form is required by nearly all colleges to determine eligibility for federal, state and some forms of institutional aid. It can be completed online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa and must be filed each year a student seeks need-based aid. It is critical to provide a stable, permanent email and mailing address when filing online.
Most students are eligible for twelve semesters of financial aid. Families of new or current college students can complete the form as early at October 1. Once the FAFSA is submitted, the results will be sent to each college listed on the form.
FSA User ID and Password
The FSA ID is an electronic passport to federal student aid online. Students, parents and borrowers are required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites like the FAFSA. A student's or parent's FSA ID is used to confirm their identity when accessing financial aid information and electronically signing federal student aid documents. To apply, go to http://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing
Helpful “Financing Your Education” websites:
https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa To complete the FAFSA, update information and view results online
https://studentaid.gov/ An “all-in-one” resource for financial aid information
http://www.finaid.org/ An independent source for general information about financing college and scholarship scam information