By Sarah Brooks:
The cost of higher education places burdens on family budgets, prompting creative searches for college cash. If you are getting ready to start college, or enrolling in another type of post-secondary program, you are in-store for a reality-check funding higher education.
The cost of college doesn’t end with tuition payments; they are only the beginning. Housing, books, transportation and other costs of living strain college funds, representing significant add-on expenses alongside tuition. So where is the money going to come from?
Higher education is financed individually, but you’ll find significant support from the public and private sectors. Government agencies, for example, contribute extensively to college relief, furnishing at least some funding for most students taking-on post-secondary education. As you craft your college financing strategy, resources offered by the U. S. Department of Education provide essential inputs for managing higher education expenses.
Government grants, for example, furnish funding that doesn’t require repayment. While programs are income-based, the Federal Government has deep pockets, extending college aid to families of various means. Beyond grants, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program issues funding for higher education. Part of many students’ financial aid packages, government-backed loans are eventually paid back, but they are offered with interest rates and repayment schedules that are much more reasonable than students would find in the private sector.
While mainstream financial aid eases the burden for countless students headed for college, it doesn’t always cover the whole tab for higher education. To bridge the affordability gap, students turn toward these unique sources of college aid; rounding out funding for higher education.
Applying for federal financial aid starts with a standardized form called the FAFSA. The document gathers information about your finances, enabling financial aid administrators to construct aid packages appropriate for your needs. In many cases, filing a FAFSA also initiates your quest for state aid. Financial aid officials at your college have the most up-to-date information about policies in your state, so they should be consulted when enrolling. State college funding is limited, so early application gives you the best chance of securing funds. Failing to fully explore state financial aid options leaves money on the table for college students needing it most.
Your Parents Employer
The key to securing financial aid for college is utilizing all the resources available to you. Where you live, your ethnic background, and the subjects you study each open doors to financial aid. But did you know your parent’s employer might have funding available for you?
Employers hold vested interests in training future workers, and they understand your parent’s position, paying for college. As a result, some employers offer incentives for family members, like scholarships and grants. You may strike-out, but it pays to ask mom and dad to put you in-touch with company resources.
Work- for-Tuition Arrangements
Some of the most generous financial aid available comes from programs specifically targeting certain vocations. Currently, the nursing and teaching professions are experiencing shortages of qualified graduates. To recruit promising candidates, various incentive programs furnish college tuition money, in exchange for service following graduation. Participating students who complete their obligations; usually two or three year stints working in shortage areas, essentially earn free higher education.
Aid for Foster Children
Special circumstances yield financial aid targeting certain members of society. If you are, or ever have been a foster child, exclusive funding resources may be available. In addition to widespread state aid for foster kids, private agencies and foundations also step-up with financial aid programs.
Scholarships are issued for excellence in academics and athletics, emerging from a wide variety of foundations and educational benefactors. Major corporations, especially those operating in forward fields requiring the best and brightest minds, issue their own financial aid packages to promising students. Apple, for example, supports education through scholarships in STEM subjects, assisting future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
The face of education continues to evolve, with more and more students returning to school to enhance credentials. TRPs are initiated by companies and other entities in support of employee education and certification.
Company sponsored tuition plans are each unique to the companies funding them, so it is important to review terms and conditions before counting on the aid they provide. Certain programs, for instance, only cover courses specifically related to your primary job with the company. In other instances, benchmarks must be met, like earning degrees or a certain number of credits, before tuition reimbursement kicks in. Whatever is offered, these programs furnish generous assistance for workers able to utilize them.