Exhausting Your Options
- Federal Aid: If you haven't filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you definitely want to do that. Otherwise, you won't know how much federal financial aid you qualify for. It is in your best interest to exhaust all federal aid, including federal loans, before taking a private loan.
- Scholarships: Scholarships are one of the best forms of financial aid, because you don't have to pay them back. They are awarded based on various criteria such as academics, athletics, the arts, community service, and essay contests. Apply for as many scholarships as you can, but avoid searches or applications that charge a fee. The internet is a great resource, as many websites allow you to perform free searches based on your qualifications. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Other Financial Aid: You might want to check with the financial aid office to see if your school offers any institutional aid for which you can apply. Additionally, various aid programs are sometimes offered by state governments.
Each year, the federal government sets aside a lot of money to help students pay for college. This financial aid is awarded through Pell Grants, Perkins loans, Stafford loans, and other programs. You're eligible for some of these aid programs, and you'll want to take full advantage of them. You don't have to pay grants back, and federal student loans generally offer low interest rates as well as flexible repayment and consolidation options.
So, if you haven't already filled out the FAFSA, that should be your next step. Find out how much aid you can get and exhaust all available federal options. Remember to take full advantage of any federal financial aid you are offered. Grants don't have to be paid back, and federal student loans generally offer low interest rates as well as flexible repayment and consolidation options.
If you exhaust all federal options and still need additional funds, then you may want to consider a private loan.