How to Pay for College: Top 7 Student Aid Questions Answered


You’ve decided to get your degree. Now it’s time to think about how to pay for college. There are many student aid options available to help you pay for college: government, businesses, community organizations and even individuals.

The government is the largest source of available financial assistance for college, and it literally offer billions of dollars in student aid. Start there. Then look to other sources for financial assistance such as, college scholarships and educational loans.

Here are your top 7 questions answered about how you can pay for college:

1 – Can I afford to go to college?

Of course you can. Financial support for college is available to everyone, no matter their circumstances. Many public colleges, community colleges and technical schools provide educational programs at affordable prices.

2 – What kind of student aid is out there to help me pay for college?

  1. College Grants – Free government funds typically awarded on a need basis.
  2. College Scholarships – Free government funds typically awarded on the basis of merit, among other things. College scholarships are also available from private individuals, companies, non-profit groups and community organizations.
  3. Educational Loans – Funds borrowed from the government or through private lenders.
  4. Federal Work-Study – Part-time jobs provided by participating schools to give students in need a chance to earn money to support their education.
  5. GI Bill: Military Benefits for College – Specific government funds set aside and awarded to current and former military and their dependents.

3 – How do I apply for financial assistance for college?

Simply fill out the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form at to qualify for financial aid. This must be repeated every year and will determine what type of financial aid you are eligible for.

4 – What determines how much financial assistance I will receive for college?

All financial aid awarded depends on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is what schools use to determine how much federal financial support you will receive. Remember all that personal financial information you provided on your FAFSA form? Here is where that information will be assessed to make the determination.

5 – Do I qualify for student aid even if my GPA is not the best?

Though many scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, most government aid is based on financial need. However, keep in mind that most student aid comes with academic stipulations. For example, to stay eligible for a Pell grant – one of the most common need based grants – you must maintain a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.

6 – If I qualify for financial aid for college, what can I use it for?

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel

7 – How can I find out more about financial assistance and how to pay for college?

Check out these helpful resources for finding financial support for college:

  • College Board: Financial Aid Easy Planner
  • College Board: Financial Aid FAQs
  • Student Aid on the Web
  • Federal Direct Loans

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