How to Pay for College

How to Pay for College

Print

For many applicants and their families, the most daunting aspect of the journey to college is the price tag.

If you’re wondering, “How am I going to pay for college?” you have options. In fact, there is more help available to you than you might realize.

These resources are eager to work in partnership with your family to ensure that a college education is affordable:

The Federal Government:

From federal grants, to federal student loans, to employment through the federal work-study program, The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year to more than 15 million students. Visit the Office of Federal Student Aid to learn more.

Your State Government:

Similar to the federal government, your home state offers various types of financial aid, and guess what? You might be eligible for this type of aid even if you’re not eligible for federal aid. For more information, contact your state grant agency.

Colleges and Universities:

Many colleges and universities provide financial aid and scholarships from their own funds – sometimes for a particular field of study. To learn if a school offers this type of financial support, visit the financial aid section of their individual website or contact the school’s financial aid office.

PRO TIP: College financial aid officers are more than willing to help you and your family understand the financial aid process, even before you’ve applied. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these officers directly.

Now that you know who is available to help you pay for college, it’s important to understand what you can do to make college more affordable.

Start saving.

It's never too early to set funds aside to pay for college, and there are specific government-sponsored savings plans to help you do just that. To learn about savings opportunities and strategies, visit the Office of Federal Student Aid and check out their guide to saving early.

PRO TIP: Wondering what a particular college might cost? You can get an estimate using the U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator.

Apply for Financial Aid.

Financial aid comes in many different forms from many different sources. Start by visiting the Office of Federal Student Aid to learn about the different types of financial aid available to you (like grants, loans and work-study). Then, when you're ready to apply for financial aid, you'll need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

PRO TIP: You can get a head start on the process by using the FAFSA4caster. This tool provides an estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid.

Explore Scholarship opportunities.

Scholarships are gift money that can help you pay for college. Most scholarships are awarded by individual colleges in recognition of academic performance, athletic excellence, a commitment to community service, or other unique talents. You can learn about these opportunities by visiting individual colleges’ admission and financial aid offices (or websites). You can also find scholarship opportunities through local, regional, and national non-profit organizations.

PRO TIP: There are a lot of scams out there. The Office of Federal Student Aid can help you avoid scams, prevent identity theft, and find true scholarships.