Many people start off applying for college and financial aid at the same time. However, they are unaware that the financial aid process should start years before they even select a college. Here is some helpful information regarding college costs and planning for it.
Determining the Total Cost
The US Department of Education estimates that the cost to attend a public college is between $15,100 and $32,900. Starting early to prepare covering college costs means you need to know how much you are looking to pay out of pocket in school and what you will look at paying once you are out of school. Loans are the amount of money that will need to be paid back and scholarships and grants generally do not need to be paid back. There are exceptions such as if a rule is broken, you may forfeit additional funds or may be required to pay them back.
The best way to get an accurate figure of how much your college costs will be is to get the information either directly from the school or from a reputable website. Their College ROI Rankings resource has so much information loaded about educational statistics. You can go to this site and search for schools and get the information you need to help you form an educated decision. Make sure you are looking for the total expenses. This includes tuition, fees, and living arrangements, both on and off campus.
Find All Financial Support
A good place to start calculating how much aid you need assistance with is the Federal Student Aid Department (FSA). They have many tools and calculators. You will initially complete your Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) application, which in the end gives you the estimated amount you are eligible for in student loans and the Federal Pell grant. This is also your application to qualify you for many other grants and scholarships.
A key tool to use of the FSA is the FAFSA4caster, which provides you a college worksheet guiding you to understand you eligibility and how much you need to save. You can also use the College Navigator to get information about the average amount of student loans, Pell grant, other federal grants, and institutional scholarships that are awarded.
Once you have figured out your need, you need to determine how you are going to cover your balance. Keep in mind, most of these calculations are determined based on you taking the federal loans. If you are not interested in any loans, you do have some work cut out for you, unless you are working and can dedicate income payments for your tuition as you go.