While part of the American dream is earning a college degree and having the career of your dreams, the thought of how this dream is going to be funded can feel like a nightmare. With some planning and research, this process can help calm the fears and turn that dream into a reality.
Yes, there are ways that a student can get free money for college! Scholarships and grants (for qualified students) are great ways to get free money that students do not have to pay back and they can be used to offset the cost of student loans.
- A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid.
- The maximum Pell grant for the 2010 – 2011 (July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011) and 2011 – 2012 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) award years are $5,550.
- The amount depends on your financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 
Eligibility is determined when a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is completed. Within the application, financial and personal information is entered to determine the individual’s eligibility to receive financial aid, including the Pell Grant. This application must be completed before someone can receive funding. The amount awarded is determined by your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) which is a result of the information entered on the FAFSA and is reported on your Student Aid Report (SAR).
- A grant-in-aid to a student (as by a college or foundation).
- It is free money for school that comes from different programs and organizations.
- A student can have as many scholarships as they can earn.
- All scholarships must be applied for and it is the student’s responsibility to make sure they complete and fulfill all criteria for each individual scholarship.
- Scholarships can be found on www.fastweb.com, a free consolidated website of scholarships, or by checking with local civic and religious groups, employers, parents’ employers or other online websites.
- It is highly encouraged to apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Student Loans are available to students as assistance for funding college and financing the remaining need a student might have after grants are applied. The following loans are available:
Federal Stafford Subsidized Loans: Loan for which a borrower is not responsible for the interest while in-school, during the loans grace period, or deferment status. Subsidized loans include Direct Subsidized, Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans, Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Subsidized Consolidation Loans.
Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Loans: Loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan. Unsubsidized loans include: Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans, and Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and Federal Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans.
Parent PLUS Student Loans: The Federal PLUS Loan is a loan borrowed by a parent on behalf of a child to help pay for tuition and school related expenses at an eligible college or university, or by a graduate student for graduate school. The student must be enrolled at least half time, and the parent or graduate student must pass a credit check in order to receive this loan.
Student loans have the option to start repayment procedures 6 months after the student graduates. A student has the option to start repayment immediately, or they have the option to postpone their payments 6 months after their graduation date. This allows the student time to find that perfect job and start their career. For more information on student loans, please go to www.studentloans.gov or see your financial aid advisors.
Financial Aid Representatives are available to help make this process an easy one. It is our job to make sure you understand every component of your financial aid package. Once you act on the vision of college, we do not want the fear and anxiety of funding that vision to overshadow the focus of reaching your dream.