While parents may be a primary source for financing education, there are many other avenues that students can pursue to find additional funding. Contact your financial aid office to get more information on these and other programs.
Grants & scholarships
This money does not have to be repaid. A grant is money awarded on the basis of financial need, while a scholarship is awarded based on many different criteria.
Federal grants - Pell Grant Program
These yearly government grants are given to qualifying undergraduate students. Applications may be obtained through high schools or colleges.
There are state grants and scholarships available to students who are legal residents of the state. Most state programs insist that the student attend a local college or university, but a few have reciprocal agreements with other states.
College grants / scholarships
Colleges and universities are an important source of aid for the student. Students must demonstrate need and/or meet certain requirements to be eligible. Here are some of the criteria for awarding a grant or scholarship:
- Academic achievement
- Leadership potential
- Artistic talent
- Proposed college major
- Athletic ability
- Community activities
- Special interests
National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is the largest private scholarship source in the country. Awards are given based on Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores taken by high school juniors. High school guidance counselors can give you more information.
Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC)
Students who agree to serve in the military as commissioned officers after graduation can qualify for scholarships. Hundreds of colleges nationwide offer an ROTC program. High school guidance counselors have a list of ROTC schools.
If you have already settled on a career or specialty, investigate professional associations related to your field of study. They may have scholarships to encourage students to pursue careers in their field. Your library is a good source for information about scholarships and grants offered from private organizations.
There are a number of other creative options to help lessen the burden of tuition payments:
- Parents can take out a home equity loan. This type of loan usually has higher borrowing limits than other loans because the loan is secured by the borrower’s home. Interest on qualifying home equity loans may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor for deductibility of loan interest). Learn more about home equity loan options.
- Many colleges offer tuition budgeting plans. If tuition payments are spread out over a longer period of time, bills can become more manageable.
- College work-study programs are subsidized by the federal government. Students can work part-time for either profit or non-profit organizations - with the employment usually on campus and jobs typically in the school cafeteria or library.
- Some colleges offer jobs to students based on their abilities rather than financial need. Jobs may include teaching assistants and dormitory resident advisors. Ask about these programs when you are making your inquiries into colleges.