College may be key to a successful career, but it must be paid for prior to reaping any financial aid rewards. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to help you cover your expenses, several of which are detailed below.
Largely determined based on financial need, grants for college are typically offered by government entities and financial institutions. Grants are an ideal option for those who desire an interest-free solution but do not qualify for most merit-based scholarships. The downside, however, is that they are highly competitive. The Sallie Mae report How America Pays for College found that 66 percent of those attending college used grant or scholarship money to cover necessary expenses in 2014.
Regardless of your current financial situation, you can land a great scholarship if you impress grantors enough. Given primarily based on the merit of the applicant, scholarships may be awarded to those who have demonstrated academic excellence, athletic distinction, or some other quality that colleges, non-profit organizations, or businesses find enticing. Like grants, scholarships are very competitive, although smaller scholarships are sometimes easier to score.
Federal Student Loans
Not everybody qualifies for grants or scholarships, but that doesn’t make paying for college impossible. Federal loans are an excellent option, as they boast low interest rates and are occasionally forgiven for those occupying public service positions. Other students are able to defer payments or pursue flexible repayment plans. Federal student loans are quite common today; experts at the Institute for College Access & Success report that 68 percent of students graduate with debt in 2015.
Private Student Loans
If your federal student loans don’t cover the full cost of college, private college loans may be a viable alternative. Unlike federal loans, these are granted based on the student or cosigner’s credit score. Another major difference between federal and private loans: students with private loans are often asked to start making payments while still enrolled.
Many students pursue a combination of these financial aid options. No solution is ideal for everybody; a lot depends on income, academic achievements and/or credit score. Most students enjoy access to a range of resources, so a quality college education should be well within reach. The below financial aid breakdown guide from Carrington College can help you further determine which options apply to you:
Infographic provided by Carrington College.
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