Find Employment/Financial Aid
Many people fund their education or training through financial aid or tuition assistance programs. Federal student aid comes in three formsː grants, work-study programs, and loans. All Federal student aid applicants must first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which provides a Student Aid Report (SAR) and eligibility rating. Forms must be submitted to desired institutions of study, which determine the amount of aid you will receive.
For information on applying for Federal financial aid, visit the FAFSA Internet site: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
A U.S. Department of Education publication describing Federal financial aid programs, called The Student Guide, is available at: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/ students/publications/student_guide/index.html.
Information on State programs is available from your State's higher education agency. A list of these agencies is available at: http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/.
A grant is money which is given to a student or the institution they are attending in order to pay for their education or training and any associated expenses. Grants are typically given on the basis of financial need. Grants are considered gifts and are not paid back. Federal grants are almost exclusively for undergraduate students. They include Pell Grants, which can be worth up to $4,050 annually, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), which can be worth up to $4,000 annually. Priority for FSEOG awards is given to those who have also received the Pell Grant and have exceptional financial need.
Additional information on grants is available on the Internet: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov.
Information also is available from your State Higher Education agency. A list of these agencies is available at: http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/.
Federal Work-Study program
The Federal Work-Study program is offered at most institutions and consists of Federal sponsorship of a student who works part time at the institution he or she is attending. The money a student earns through this program goes directly toward the cost of attending the institution. There are no set minimum or maximum amounts for this type of aid, although, on average, a student can expect to earn about $2,000 per school year.
For additional information on work-study opportunities offered, check with individual institutions. General information on the Federal Work-Study program is available at: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/ student_guide/2005-2006/english/types-fed-workstudy.htm.
A scholarship is a sum of money donated to a student to help pay for his or her education or training and any associated costs. Scholarships can range from small amounts up to the full cost of schooling. They are based on financial need, academic merit, athletic ability, or a wide variety of other criteria set by the organizations that provide the scholarships. Frequently, students must meet minimum academic requirements to be considered for a scholarship. Other qualifying requirements such as intended major field of study, heritage, or group membership may be added by the organization providing the scholarship.
Scholarships can be provided by a wide variety of institutions, including educational institutions, State and local governments, private associations, social groups, and individuals. There are no federally awarded scholarships based on academic merit. Most large scholarships are awarded to students by the institution they plan to attend. Students who have received State scholarships and plan to attend a school in another State should check with their State to see if the scholarship can be transferred.
Information on scholarships is typically available from high school guidance counselors and local libraries. Additional scholarship information is available from State higher education agencies. A list of these agencies is available at: http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/. The College Board has information on available scholarships at: http://www.collegeboard.com/pay.
Many institutions, both public and private, provide low-interest loans to students and their parents or guardians. The Federal Government also provides several types of student loans based on the applicant's level of financial need. The amount of money a student can receive in loans varies by the distributing institution and depends on whether the student is claimed by a parent or guardian as a dependent. Since the process of applying for a loan may take several months, it is a good idea to start applying for Federal student loans well in advance.
The available Federal loan programs can accommodate prospective undergraduate, graduate, vocational, and disabled students. Federal loans can be distributed through the school that the student is attending, from the Federal Government directly, or from a third-party private lender or bank. Perkins loans are distributed through the school the student is attending. Loans coming from the Federal Government directly from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are dispersed by the Department of Education. Third-party loans through a private lender or bank are from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program. For all federally funded loans, payments are made to the institution that originally dispersed the funds.
For those with financial need, Federal Perkins loans and both Direct and FFEL-subsidized Stafford loans are available. Perkins loans have no minimum amount, but they are capped at $4,000 per year for undergraduates and $6,000 per year for graduate students. Subsidized Stafford loans can range in value from $2,625 to $8,500 per year and can increase as a student completes more years of undergraduate, graduate, or professional education. Interest rates remain at a flat 5 percent for all Perkins loans, while rates can fluctuate up to 8.25 percent for subsidized Stafford loans. Those with Perkins loans are not responsible for starting to repay the loan until they have been out of school for 9 months. Those with subsidized Stafford loans must begin payments within 6 to 9 months of leaving school but are not charged monthly interest while in school.
For those who do not demonstrate financial need, Direct and FFEL-unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Parent Loans for Students (PLUS) are available. Unsubsidized Stafford loans can range in value from $2,625 to $18,500 per year. PLUS loans are capped at the cost of attendance. With Federal unsubsidized Stafford Loans, interest payments start almost immediately and can be paid monthly or accrued until the completion of studies. The latter option results in a larger total loan cost but may be more convenient for some students. With PLUS loans, the parent must pay interest and principal payments while the student is enrolled in school and must continue payments after completion. Check with your lender for available repayment schedules. Typically, students have 10 years to repay Perkins loans and from 10 to 30 years for unsubsidized Stafford loans.
Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans are only available to students who are enrolled in an academic program at least half time. As with any loan, be sure to investigate different lenders, and understand what your loan contract requires of you before agreeing to any loan. Check with established financial institutions to compare the terms of available private student loans. Comparisons of the various types of loans are available on the Internet: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/student_guide/index.html.
The College Board has information on available loans at: http://www.collegeboard.com/pay.
Employer tuition support programs
Some employers offer tuition assistance programs as part of their employee benefits package. The terms of these programs depend on the firm and can vary by the type and amount of training subsidized, as well as by eligibility requirements. Consult your human resources department for information on tuition support programs offered by your employer.
Military tuition support programs. The United States Armed Forces offer various tuition assistance and loan repayment programs for military personnel. See the Handbook statement on "Job Opportunities in the Armed Forces" for more information. Also go to: