Financial Aid 101: Making College Cheaper

July 5, 2022

If you are like most getting ready to go to college, you more than likely will need help paying for it, so you don’t want to miss out on the opportunities that are out there to find Grants and Scholarships. Fun thing about those are they are usually free money, and you won’t have to pay it back, bonus, right? If you are already receiving some sort of government aid, there are plenty of options out there regarding grants and scholarships to lock in. The trick that hurts most is where to look and getting started as SOON as possible.

How much does college cost?

Students are currently graduating with an average of $39,351 in student loan debt. Sallie Mae found that most families know that their children want to attend a university, but only around 39% have the ability or plan to pay for it, depending on the type of university or school you want to attend or the state that you live in. According to College Board you could be paying anywhere from $10,230 for state residents and $26,290 for everyone else. This compares to an average of $35,830 at private non-profit colleges.

Financial Aid Through Grants & Scholarships

Applying for financial aid is one of those things that can take quite a bit of time, but it’s absolutely worth it to bring down the astronomical price of a college education. According to 76.7% of full-time undergraduates receive a grant or scholarship. 47% of all grants and scholarships come from the federal government. 87% of students who receive scholarships receive one from their college. The College Board also found that undergraduates received more than $14,000 in financial aid, on average. The way things usually work is that grants are awarded based on whatever your financial needs may be, and scholarships are awarded based on your merit. Grants and scholarships can be found from the federal government, your state government, colleges, as well as private companies and non-profits.

Filling out FAFSA

A critical step if not THE most critical is filling out your Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). This is what allows the government to determine how much financial aid you can receive. States and some private institutions also use it to understand your financial situation and what to reward you in aid. You will want to complete this by January 1 of the year you are attempting to enter college and every year after that you are in college because some programs operate on a first come first serve basis, so filing early allows you to get ahead of all those others who aren’t as on the ball as you are. Do understand that deadlines for the state and federal vary so you’ll have to look up depending on your state when those deadlines or openings are.  

Check out the college Financial Aid Office

A great resource as well for finding some sort of help in this financial market is, going directly to the specific colleges you are applying to, and seeing what they have to offer. Most schools have some sort of financial aid office to help you understand your options. You will more than likely want to schedule a meeting with said counselor to learn about what may be available specifically to you.  

So how do we find those Grants and Scholarships?

If you can think it, more than likely there is a grant or scholarship for it. Look within your local community, especially with organizations you or your family belong to, like your high school, employer, religious organization, or even a campus organization.  

There are quite a few resources that will allow you to search for grants or scholarships that may work for you:

The U.S. Department of Education has a handy tool to allow you to research grants or scholarships.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarship Search allows you to filter out and research what is available in your area/college.

For assistance with what is available in Oklahoma you can go to Oklahoma Scholarships

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