Student aid is financial help for students which, unlike a student loan, usually does not need to be repaid.
If you're a college student worried about how you will pay for your college degree, you definitely aren't alone. After all, the average cost of an undergraduate degree in the United States can run over $40,000 a year.
Fortunately, there are a number of student financial aid programs out there to help you manage these expenses. The type of aid you can qualify for depends on the organization and your personal financial situation.
Here GET.com has listed 5 top sources of student financial aid:
Federal Student Aid
The Federal government is one of the biggest providers of student aid. They provide both grants, which pay your college expenses, and loans, which let you borrow money during college.
To be eligible for federal aid, you need to be a legal resident of the United States, have a valid Social Security number, be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program, and be registered with the Selective Services if you are male. In addition, you could lose your eligibility if you have defaulted on payments on federal student aid in the past and if you have a criminal record.
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for federal student aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application looks at the cost of your degree and your current financial resources to determine what type of programs you qualify for.
Generally, lower income students qualify for grants while students with more resources qualify for loans.
State Student Aid
State governments also provide student aid. Every state has a different program with different types of aid and rules for qualifying. Typically, you need to be going to school in a state to qualify for its student aid programs. This website lists the programs in every state. By visiting here, you can determine what's available and whether you qualify.
Aid From Your School
Schools also try to help their students manage their expenses with scholarships, grants, and loans. Your first step should be to contact your school's financial aid office to see what they offer. Many schools offer need-based scholarships and grants to students who don't have the financial resources to pay everything they own. They also offer scholarships to students who perform well in academics and athletics. You should also contact the department head for your major. Occasionally, departments offer special scholarships to students studying in their field.
Aid From Nonprofits, Charities And Other Organizations
If you are a member of a charity, nonprofit, religious institution, a club, or any other organization, you should contact the head of the organization and ask if they offer any help for members going to school. Often, these organizations help their members with small scholarships.
Private Bank Loans
One other option is to borrow money from the bank with a personal loan. Banks typically have tougher financial standards for their loans. To qualify, you'd likely need some work history and a decent credit score. You could also have a family member with more work history co-sign the loan to help you qualify.
Whatever you do, don't try to finance your education with payday loans. These have high interest rates and short loan terms, which is exactly the opposite of what you need to pay for your schooling.
Paying for a college degree isn't easy and you should take all the help you can get. By using all these student financial aid programs, you may be able to bring the cost of your degree down to a more reasonable level. You could then pay off the rest by working as a freelancer (check out these 5 freelance jobs for college students) or finding other crazy ways to pay for college without student loans.