Paying for your education may seem like a challenge. However, financial aid is available for students who need assistance to start or continue their education. As you begin planning for your education, it's important that you know where to look for financial aid. It's a good idea to learn about as many funding sources as possible.
High school career and college counselors are great resources for financial aid and scholarship information, as well as for contact information about colleges you might want to attend.
There are many different types of financial aid programs available to all students. Plus, there are additional resources offered only to specific groups of students. For example, there are funding sources available for minority students only, and other sources are available to students enrolling in health care programs.
If you're interested in a health career, it's often easier to obtain financial aid because of the special resources available.
Financial Aid Resources
Financial Aid Programs
There are basically three types of financial aid available for undergraduate students entering college:
- Grants and scholarships: These are gifts and do not require repayment or performance of a service. There are many sources for these funds, including the federal government, state agencies, professional and service organizations, private foundations, individual schools, the Armed Forces, and, in New York State, many hospitals provide funds for students entering health careers. Grants are usually awarded on the basis of need alone. Unlike grants, scholarships are awarded only if certain criteria are met by the student, such as academic achievement.
- Loans: These are amounts of money given to students that eventually must be repaid by the student. Most students qualify for some sort of loan. Banks, government agencies, colleges and universities, and some health care providers offer loans to students. Student loans are subsidized by a variety of sources, such as the state or federal government, educational foundations, industrial organizations, and private lending organizations. Student loans generally carry lower interest rates than commercial loans and repayment must begin after graduation or leaving college, usually within six months.
- Student Employment or Work Study: This financial aid is considered self-aid because such programs require students to work usually between 10 to 15 hours a week to earn it, such as the Federal College Work-Study Program. Jobs are usually arranged by the schools and are planned around the student's class schedule.
Anyone applying for federal, state or college aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is available at all high schools or colleges, or you can apply over the Internet at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is available in January and should be completed and filed as early as possible. The application must be completed every year. Check individual school descriptions or catalogs for any school-specific preferred dates or deadlines.
- Gather all necessary financial records, including current and previous tax returns, before you begin filling out the financial aid forms.
- Double check that the application is complete and that all information is accurate.
- Use the same name on all financial aid forms.
- Keep copies of each completed form for your records.
- Monitor all mail related to financial aid and respond immediately to requests for more information.
- If you think you have special circumstances that are not covered on the financial aid application, contact the college financial aid office directly.