Figuring out how to pay for college is no easy task. But the good news is, there are various options available when it comes to financial aid for undergraduate students.
Scholarships are generally merit-based. Merit-based means they are given based on grades, talent, abilities, or service and are not tied to family income or a family’s financial situation. There are numerous websites to help you begin searching for scholarships including Sallie Mae and fastweb.com. It may also be beneficial to check out USA Today’s article “The 10 best sites to look for college scholarships.” While scholarships are generally merit-based, they may have a need-based component. Need based scholarships are exactly what they sound like – they are based on financial need. These scholarships require completion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The best part about scholarships? You don’t have to pay them back.
Grants and Federal Work-Study
A grant is similar to a scholarship in that it does not need to be repaid. Unlike scholarships, a grant is typically need-based instead of merit-based. Grants also usually come from state or federal aid whereas scholarships are awarded by various sources including businesses, religious groups, individuals, and more. You may also consider looking into a Federal Work-Study (FWS). A FWS provides part-time jobs for students with financial need while they are enrolled in school, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. This is administered by schools that participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. You can check with your school’s financial aid office to see if your school participates.
For college expenses not covered by scholarships or grants, student loans are available, both federal and private. Federal student aid is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. Find out if you qualify by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Private options are also available to you for student loans. FORUM Credit Union is partnered with Sallie Mae® to bring you The Smart Option Student Loan®. This loan features multiple repayment options and competitive rates. Click here for more details.
And then there’s always good old fashioned saving! It’s never too late to start saving for your child’s education. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan to help you save for future college expenses. In Indiana, it is called the CollegeChoice 529. For details, click here. You may also consider FORUM’s Sprout Account. This account earns a competitive dividend rate and FORUM will match 10% of deposited funds per calendar year based on various tier levels. * Click here for more information.
For more tips and best practices for paying for college, click here.
*Maximum match of $100 per calendar year.