Paying for school can seem like a daunting task; however, many financial aid options exist to help you. Here are a few potential options for gathering the funds you need:
1. First, there are grants and scholarships. Generally, grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back, so many people consider them ‘free money.’ Grants are need-based aid, which means specific financial criteria may need to be met in order to qualify. You can check your eligibility for grants by filling out the FAFSA®. Scholarships are usually merit-based, so they may have academic or extracurricular requirements. Your school's financial aid office may have additional resources to help you search for scholarships you are eligible for.
2. Work-study is another financial aid opportunity. Work-study provides students with part-time employment to help them earn money to pay for school. Many work-study opportunities are on campus and may help you gain experience in your field. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA® to determine your eligibility. If you’re already employed or considering employment, check to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement.
3. If it looks like you will need to borrow funds to cover school costs, consider taking out a federal student loan. Generally, they are lower-interest loans backed by the federal government; and may have perks like forbearance, loan forgiveness, multiple repayment plans, and deferment. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA® to determine your eligibility and no credit check is required. Your parent(s) could also be eligible for a federal Parent PLUS loan.
4. The last financing option to consider is a private student loan. You’ll work with a lending institution, like Earnest, to cover your remaining school expenses with a loan. Private student loans generally have credit criteria that must be met and may require full repayment. Depending on the lender, perks like forbearance, deferment, and customized repayment plans may be available.