With rising costs in education and a crippling student debt crisis, financial aid programs are a valuable alternative for managing educational expenses. Various financial aid programs in the United States offer loans and other aid to help students pay for regular school expenses like tuition, transportation, books, equipment, and fees.
Financial aid is not just in the form of loans, but also includes other types of monetary assistance such as grants and scholarships, or work-study programs that help students from different financial backgrounds have the opportunity to get an education.
Merit and financial need are some prior conditions that have to be met in order to get financial aid from government or private sources. Here are some types of commonly offered financial aid.
Scholarships are offered based on merit to students who prove to be academically exceptional and worthy of encouragement to pursue their education further. Students may be assessed based on factors such as their degree field, grades or financial needs, as well as their race, medical history, talents, or choice of college. Students who are actively involved in sports are considered for specific sports-related scholarships. Scholarships are usually granted by private or government sources, or educational institutions. They cover the full or partial costs of education and they need not be repaid.
Unlike scholarships, grants are offered more on the basis of need than merit. Students who are from low-income backgrounds or those who face any financial difficulty during their studies can apply for a grant that covers some or all of their college expenses. Like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid and can come from a wide range of institutions and organizations, government or private. Various educational institutes, universities, and colleges offer grants to students who need financial help in order to continue their studies.
A work-study program is a federally funded form of financial aid that helps students pursue higher education by working part time. This program is focused on students with a financial need and they have to be eligible in order to apply for it. Students are encouraged to get work positions that are related to their field of study, so that they can have a good learning experience while also earning to pay for their educational expenses. These jobs offer comfortable schedules so that a student can balance college and work simultaneously.
Educational loans or student loans are another form of financial aid that is offered to students through government or private sources. Unlike other financial aid programs, a loan is risky and unreliable because of the high costs and penalties involved. Student loans can prove to be burdensome in the long run, especially if they are not planned well. Two common kinds of student loans in the United States include a federal loan and a private loan. While federal loans are given by the government, private loans are offered by private agencies.
Other popular financial aid programs may be restricted to specific groups like students with military backgrounds or international students. For any federal aid program, whether it is a grant or scholarship, students would be required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This is a form that determines your eligibility for federally funded financial aid and confirms whether or not you fit the basic requirements. These requirements include: U.S. citizenship, financial need, a good standing record of previous federal loans, acceptance to a degree or educational program, and maintenance of good academic progress. Non-U.S citizens can also be eligible for financial aid under certain circumstances. Once you are eligible for federal financial aid, you should be able to get assistance through various programs like work-study, grants, or even scholarships.