There are several types of funding options for those who wish to go to college and further their education. Grants, student loans, and scholarships abound. Some of these funds are gifts, while some must be repaid. Which option should you choose?
Scholarships are gifts, and are usually awarded based on merit. There are scholarships based on gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and degree program. There are also scholarships that are awarded to children of individuals in a particular category. Great sources for scholarship information are the Financial Aid office at your school, www.fastweb.com, and www.student.gov.
Grants are another great source of college funds. The federal government offers several grants for college students, and you can find this information online at www.grants.gov. When you fill out your FAFSA, your college or university will also be able to match you with grants, including Pell Grants, which are the most popular source of funds for students. Like scholarships, grants do not need to be repaid, and are basically free money for college.
Loans are also great sources of college funds. There are many types of loans. Federal student loans, such as Stafford loans, are secured by the federal government, and administered by local banks or companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These loans do need to be repaid, but generally accrue less interest than a traditional loan. There are also private loan options. You can seek these loans out by visiting your local bank or credit union. Many employers and non-profit organizations also offer loans for students. A great place to look for these loans is the internet – try www.fastweb.com, www.student.gov, or even a Google search.
Most of these funding sources have deadlines very early in the year, and many require the recipient to have a current FAFSA on file, so you’ll want to get started right away. You can file your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, or in person at your school’s Financial Aid office.