You have a lot of college options, but you also have a lot of ways to pay for your education.
Financial aid is available from the federal government, your state and your college. Financial aid includes both grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, and federal loans, which do have to be paid back after you graduate from college or are no longer a full-time student.
Scholarships are need-based (you or your family’s income qualifies you for the money) or merit-based (some quality, such as your grades, qualifies you for the money). Scholarships are a gift and do not need be paid back.
Learn more about searching for scholarships with Learn More Indiana’s tips on maximizing your scholarship opportunities.
The best thing you can do now to become eligible for scholarships is to maintain a high GPA (grade point average). Both merit- and need-based usually require a certain GPA. Studying pays off!
Family contribution and savings
After you file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the U.S. Department of Education will produce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC): the amount of money you and/or your family are expected to be able to provide towards your college education. Of course, in reality, you may be able to pay more (especially if you started saving early) or less than the EFC.
Decrease your college debt by starting a savings plan today. The Indiana CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plan allows you to save for college tax-free, and the money will be tax-free when it is withdrawn for educational purposes such as tuition or books.
You may have a part-time job to help finance your college tuition and living costs. Don’t let your job compromise your schoolwork, though. Experts recommend that full-time students do not work more than 15 hours a week.
Even with financial aid and scholarships, you may still have college costs. If you and your family are not able to pay what’s left of your college bills, you may choose to take out a loan. Read more about what types of loans are your best bet with Learn More Indiana’s tips on reducing your college debt.