Young adults who are considering furthering their high school education by continuing on to college may not be able to afford the ever increasing costs of college. Families with multiple children going off to college may not be able to afford the multiple tuition costs and expenses.
Financial aid is available for those who are in need and who qualify. There are a variety of options to help the potential college student: grants, student loans, work study programs, and scholarships. These programs may be funded from the federal government, from the state government, from the college university directly, or even from private companies or corporations.
Financial Aid Differences
What is the difference between these types of financial aid? The main difference is whether or not the funds have to be repaid, as explained below. Another difference comes from the source of the funding, along with the requirements to qualify for the different programs.
These are funds that typically come from a non-profit company, such as the federal government. Grants may be given for a specific project and do not need to be paid back. The recipient will most likely have to provide updates and reports regarding the specified project. Grants are not aimed solely towards the expense of a college education but may span a variety of topics and interests.
Like grants, these funds do not need to be paid back. There are a broad range of scholarships, ranging from athletic scholarships to need based scholarships to academic scholarships. Scholarships are specifically geared towards helping students finance their college education. Typically, requirements are more strict than other forms of financial aid and may vary from scholarship types. For instance, academic scholarships may require a high level of academic excellence, while a need based scholarship focuses more on the financial eligibility of the student and his or her family.
These are funds that are borrowed directly by the student and will have to be paid back at a later date. Typically there is a grace period that allows the student to complete their four year education before starting to pay back the loan. The U.S. Department of Education is one such provider of student loans.
Listed below are just a few programs available for today’s student, specifically those seeking undergraduate studies.
Federal Financial Aid Programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education
Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), and Federal Perkins Loan programs are just a few programs offered by the federal government. The first three programs are actually administered by the colleges and universities directly and the availability of funds will vary with each individual educational institution.
Federal Pell Grant
The maximum grant amount is $5,550.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
Grant amounts vary from $100 to $4,000 a year, depending on the individual student’s financial need.
Federal Work-Study (FWS)
This program offers employment opportunities for students to help contribute to their own education. These jobs are typically part-time and located on the college campus and are limited in number.
Federal Perkins Loan
These low interest loans are made directly through the school to the student. Maximum loan amount is around $5,500 per undergraduate year with a maximum of $27,500 total.
There is typically a nine month grace period after graduation before repayments begin. Repayment may even be delayed if post-graduate studies are pursued.
For additional information on federal programs for financial aid, please visit the student aid website
To apply for any federal grant, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used. This one application automatically applies the student to all the various federal programs.
To submit your application online, please visit: Fafsa.Ed.Gov
Other Federal Grant Programs in a Specific Field of Study
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) – Grant amounts are offered up to $4,000 per year for students pursuing a teaching degree. However, there are post graduate requirements that need to be met. Recipients agree to teach in a high-need area serving schools with low -income students.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) – Qualifying applicants include first and second year undergraduate students only. Grant amounts range from $750 for the first year to $1,300 for the second year. One requirement is for the applicant to have completed a “rigorous secondary school program of study” as defined by U.S. Department of Education.
This may include such items as advanced or honors programs or Advanced Placement (AP) courses with a a minimum score requirement on the corresponding College Board’s exams.
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) – This grant provides a maximum of $4,000 per year for undergraduate students during the third and fourth year of study. One requirement for this aid is a major in the field of science or math, including such areas as technology, engineering and computer science.
Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Due to the current shortage of health care professionals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a variety of financial aid for those seeking an education in the field of nursing and other health care professions.
There are loan programs, loan repayment programs and scholarships available for those in need. One requirement to qualify for these funds is an agreement to work in an underserved area or facility, after completion of the necessary education. Programs include the HRSA Nursing program and Loan Programs –
Loan Programs – Includes the Health Professions Student Loans, which is a need based loan for those interested in and pursuing a degree in such health profession fields as dentistry or optometry. Pharmacy, podiatry and even veterinary medicine is also included.
Loan Repayment Programs
Includes the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program, where nurses may receive up to 60% of their nursing education loan in exchange for 2 years of service.
With the National Health Services Corps program, recipients may receive funds for up to 4 years in exchange for a specified number of years of service at an approved location, typically one in a high-need area or in an understaffed facility. Funds may be used to cover tuition and may also be used for a living expenses stipend.
For more information on these programs, please visit: Hrsa.Gov.
Montgomery G.I. Bill
The Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) is a government program that requires enlisting in the military service for a specific time period to receive educational benefits after the service is completed.
An individual can enlist in all areas of the military, such as the Army or Navy or Coast Guard. Becoming a reservist or even joining the National Guard may also qualify you for some financial aid. While an active service member, you may have to contribute a portion of your pay to this program.
For more information about this program, please visit: GiBill.Va.Gov
Reserve Office Training Corps (ROTC)
ROTC offers tuition assistance for those interested in training to become an officer in the various military branches like the Navy, Air Force, and Army. These scholarships may cover the full costs of tuition, along with any school related fees and even a textbook and monthly living expenses stipend.
For more information about these programs, please visit: ROTC
State Financial Aid Programs
Each state government may offer their own specific education grants. For example, American Indian students in Wisconsin may qualify for a Wisconsin specific educational grant. The state of Florida offers the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Check with your individual state government for any state specific educational grants or scholarship programs that they may offer.
States may also offer a discounted tuition rate for residents of their state if they attend a state university or college. For example, Cornell University, an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, offers an estimated $15,000 savings in tuition costs and fees for New York residents attending their state portion or “Contract” Colleges within the university.
For more information on financial aid programs by state, please visit: the government’s website.
Other Scholarships are also available from the individual university or from a variety of private companies and corporations. A few are listed below.
Universities typically recruit athletes who show a high level of skill in a specific sport and may offer an athletic scholarship. This may cover tuition and even including a stipend for living expenses. These vary greatly by universities and one should consult the university directly for more information.
Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award Program – This program offers a $7,500 scholarship for college from the Milk Processor Education Program
For more information about this program, please visit: BodyByMilk.Com.
World Sport Chicago Scholarship
Qualified applicants located in Chicago, Illinois who have participated in an Olympic or Paralympic sport in the last three years are eligible. These WSC scholars will also be eligible to compete for a limited number of college scholarship supported by the MacArthur Foundation, receiving up to $10,000 per year for a maximum of $40,000 total.
For more information about this program, please visit: World Sport Chicago.
National Merit Scholarship Corporation
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a scholarship program administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which is a private non-profit organization. Corporate sponsors work together with NMSC to award thousands of scholarships, which vary in the amount and requirements for each type of scholarship.
Some recipients may be required to be related to an employee of the corporate sponsor. Other recipients may be required to pursue a specific major or career field in order to qualify. College sponsored merit awards are based on attending the specified sponsor college. Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) scores are used as the initial screening process for this scholarship program.
The National Achievement Scholarship Program is a specific program in which only African American students participate.
For more information about this program, please visit: National Merit’s website.
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation offers 250 academic scholarships and is achievement-based. The lengthly application process can result in a scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to $5,000 per year for a total of $10,000 to $20,000. However, applicants cannot be children of any employee or anyone associated with the Coca-Cola company and subsidiaries.
For more information about this program, please visit: Coca-Cola’s website.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
The KFC Colonel’s Scholars Program offers a scholarship for applicants up to $5,000 per year, with a potential up to $20,000 over four years. The funds can be used towards tuition, fees, books, and room and board. The ability to demonstrate financial needs is only one requirement for this scholarship.
For more information about this program, please visit: KFC’s website.
A regional supermarket chain started in 1916 in Rochester, New York, Wegmans currently has over 75 stores in the Northeastern part of the United States. The Wegmans Employee Scholarship Program is available for those part-time and full-time employees who qualify. Applicants may receive $1,500-$2,200 per year for 4 years, for a total of $6,000 to $8,800. A minimum number of hours worked is required to continue to be eligible after the first year.
For more information about this program, please visit: Wegman’s website.
As can be seen from all the various programs described above, there are plenty of options for the student in financial need. There are many programs available that may not be listed here, but this provides a start for the college-bound student seeking financial help.