When you’re thinking about enrolling in a post-secondary career certificate program, you might be concerned about how you’ll pay for school. College can be expensive, even if you go to a public school and enroll in a program that lasts for a year or two.
Fortunately, there are many ways to pay for school, such as federal student aid and private scholarships. Exploring all of your aid options when you apply and before you begin school can mean that you’re likely to find plenty of funds to pay for your program.
What Are the Benefits of Financial Aid for Students?
The biggest benefit of financial aid is that it makes post-secondary education possible for more people. Without financial aid, many students wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of school.
Getting financial aid to pay for a career certificate means you can move into a better or more fulfilling career.
Financial aid does more than cover the cost of tuition at your college. You can also use aid money to pay for books and school supplies, for your home, and for transportation to and from school.
Who Can Receive Financial Aid?
Not every student is eligible for financial aid. Whether you’re eligible or not, and the type of aid you’re eligible for, depends on several factors.
First, if you want to apply for federal student aid, you need to be a US citizen or have a Social Security number and be a non-citizen.
You also need to be enrolled in or accepted into an eligible program at least half-time1.
Federal student aid is based on financial need. To prove your need, you’ll need to provide proof of income and savings. Depending on your age, you might also have to provide information about your parents’ income and savings.
Aid is also available at the state level. You often need to be a resident of the state and be attending a school there to be eligible for state aid. Financial aid is also available for veterans or the family members of veterans.
What Types of Student Aid are Available?
Student aid falls into two main categories, aid you don’t have to repay and aid you do have to repay. Within those two categories, there are four types of aid.
The first type is grants. The government usually gives grants to students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. If you qualify for and get a grant, you don’t have to pay it back. The Pell Grant program is a federal aid program.
Scholarships, like grants, don’t have to be repaid. You can earn a scholarship for multiple reasons. Some are given to students based on merit. For example, if you had a high GPA in high school or excelled at sports or other activities, you can get a scholarship because of that.
Other types of scholarships are both merit- and need-based. If you meet certain income requirements and have a particular GPA, you might get this type of scholarship.
Scholarships can come from a variety of sources, including the state, private companies, and your school.
Work-study also doesn’t get repaid, but there’s a twist. If you are rewarded work-study, you need to find a job. You might land a job on campus through your school’s work-study program or at an off-campus employer who participates in the program.
The last type of student aid is student loans. These do need to be repaid, usually after you graduate from a program. The federal government offers loans to students based on their financial need. Some students also take out private loans from banks.
Do I Need Student Loans to Pay for School?
You might be nervous about borrowing money to pay for school, especially if you’ve heard horror stories from friends or read news reports about the massive amount of debt students take on.
Fortunately, there are ways to get an education and move into a fulfilling career that doesn’t involve going into debt. If you want to avoid student loans, your best bet is to look for a program with relatively affordable tuition programs. Then, max out your other aid options, including a mix of work-study, grants, and scholarships.
How Do You Apply for Federal Student Aid?
If you’re applying for federal student aid, you need to complete the FAFSA each year you’re in school. You provide information about your finances, such as how much money you make and how much you have saved, as well as information about your parents’ money, if necessary.
Your school uses the information you provide to determine how much and what types of aid you can receive. Often, students get a mix of aid types, such as grants and work-study or grants and scholarships.
It might be the case that you aren’t eligible for federal aid. If that happens, you can explore your other options, such as private scholarships or aid from another agency.
Orange Technical College offers financial aid to potential and current students. If you have any questions about applying for aid or the types of aid you can receive, get in touch.
Basic Eligibility Requirements, Federal Student Aid, https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/eligibility/requirements