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Financial aid is one of the biggest steps when applying for college, and it is even more important when applying to a for-profit college. These colleges typically have a higher cost of attendance, and the school wants to know that you will be able to pay for classes before they admit you. The FAFSA application process isn’t complicated, though you will need to have certain documents and financial amounts ready in order to apply.

General cost of attendance

For-profit colleges will usually cost more than in-state tuition at a state college or community college. The cost of attendance doesn’t necessarily mean that the college is better or worse than nonprofit colleges, so it is good to compare tuition rates for multiple colleges where you might want to go.

It really depends on the location of where you want to go to college and your degree program. Some for-profit colleges offer great programs at a higher rate because they guarantee work after graduating through a job placement program. Likewise, some degree programs can be shorter than nonprofit programs, for example with certain academic certificates. If the cost of attendance isn’t an issue, then a for-profit college might be the right option for you.

Fill out your FAFSA

No matter where you decide to get a higher education degree, you can and should apply for financial aid. You will fill out your FAFSA either at the school in-person or online at https://fafsa.ed.gov. So many students apply for financial aid every year that the process is fairly painless, though it can take a fair amount of time as you will need to know certain financial numbers for you and/or your parents.

You will need your social security number, the year prior income tax returns, W-2s, documentation for any other income not reported on your tax return, bank statements, and driver’s license or ID. Depending on your age and where you live, you will also need your parents financial documentation. All of you and your parents will together determine your financial need, how much in student loans you qualify for, for both subsidized and unsubsidized, and how much in federal grants you are able to get.

Apply for scholarships

Scholarships will help you pay for tuition and books on top of your financial aid package. You may even be able to get money to help pay for the cost of living as well. You should first check with your school’s financial aid department and fill out their scholarship applications. Second, you should look online for other scholarships you might qualify for. There are a great number of scholarships that go unclaimed every year, so it doesn’t hurt to check.

The types of scholarships are diverse as the people applying. For example, there are scholarships given to students specifically from religious organizations, degree programs and career goals, household situation like first person in your family to attend college and children with one parent in their household. Do some research online before paying your tuition bill, you never know what extra money you might receive.

Renew your FAFSA every year and if you have a life changing event

Remember, you will have to renew your FAFSA application every year, even if your financial situation hasn’t changed. However, keep in mind that if you financial situation has changed, for example you or your parent lost their job, let the FAFSA office know because you might be able to receive additional aid.

Applying for private student loans

Student loans from private financial institutions should be your last option as these loans aren’t necessarily regulated by the federal government like students loans through the FAFSA application are. Interest rates can be high and your terms of payoff will be different. However, don’t think that private student loans are a bad thing or will absolutely put you in a bad situation. There are many private financial institutions that offer great interest rates on student loans.

If you have any questions about any of this, ask the financial aid office at the schools you want to attend. They will be able to answer any question you may have.