The Value of College
Going to college requires hard work and may require financial sacrifice, but it can be well worth the investment. A college degree can open doors to more career opportunities, higher-paying jobs and higher lifetime earnings.
*Sixty-six percent of all undergraduates received some type of financial aid in 2007–08.
Paying for College
When it is time to pay for college, you do not have to rely on current income and college savings alone. Additional funding can come from financial aid, scholarships, grants, loans and other sources.
Federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education is the largest source of aid in America, providing over $150 billion in grants and federal loans for students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools.
Where can I Find Information on Federal Financial Aid?
The US Department of Education’s Student Aid on the Web (http://studentaid.ed.gov) and FAFSA on the Web (http://www.fafsa.com are packed with valuable information. Another great source of information is NCAD’s Financial Aid Office.
Apply for Financial Aid
To be considered for financial aid, you must complete the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is available from a high school guidance counselor or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and cannot be filed before January 1 of the year your child will begin college.
Whether your family receives financial aid depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC calculates the income and saved assets of parent(s) and child and compares it to the cost of attending college. If there is a gap, you may be eligible for needs-based aid.
Complete and submit the FAFSA even if you do not think your family will qualify for aid. Colleges can fine-tune eligibility formulas to meet their own needs. File your FAFSA early, immediately after January 1 of your child’s senior year in high school. Colleges often award avail- able aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
Grants provide college students with money to help finance their education that does not need to be repaid. They are often awarded based on financial need.
Colleges like NCAD provide institutional grants to help make up the difference between college costs and what a family can be expected to contribute through income, savings, loans, and student earnings.
Other institutional grants, known as merit awards or merit scholarships, are awarded on the basis of academic achievement. Some merit awards are offered only to students whose families demonstrate financial need; others may be awarded without regard to a family’s finances.
The federal government sponsors:
- Pell Grants. Eligible students may receive a maximum of approximately $5,550 annually.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). Undergraduate students with exceptional financial need may receive up to $4,000 annually.
State governments may also offer grant programs, with varying eligibility and application requirements. Contact your state’s department of education for information.
Where can I Find More Information on Grants?
A great source of information is NCAD’s Financial Aid Office.
Private College Loans
Private student loans can complement federal student loans and other financial aid to help you pay for college.
What is the difference between federal and private student loans?
Federal student loans are available through the US Department of Education, feature fixed interest rates and offer several repayment options. Private student loans are education loans offered by banks or other lenders, are credit-based and have fixed or variable interest rates.
*SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). 2007–08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:08) Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2007–08, Selected Findings.