Paying for college can be a challenge but it should not hold anyone back from attending some kind of post-secondary training.
It is recommended that families explore a variety of post-secondary training at different price levels in order to find the right fit. It is equally important to explore a variety of ways to pay for college: grants, savings, scholarships, work or work study and, if needed, loans. There is a lot of recent research showing that growing student debt and stagnated salaries are a bad combination for college graduates with loan debt. Don’t let the price of a school hold you back from applying however, don’t get saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt in order to attend “the perfect school” for four years.
It is important to note that grants and scholarships are awards that do not need to be paid back. On the contrary, loans must be paid back with interest.
When students apply for college, they should also review the colleges’ financial aid information.You will want to know the answers to the following questions:
- When is the financial aid application deadline?
- What forms are required for financial aid?
- In addition to the federal and state forms (see below), CSS/Profile is required for a number of private colleges.
- Some colleges have an extra form in an addition to the standard state and federal forms.
- Does the college offer both needs-based and merit-based financial aid?
VSAC –Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
Free financial aid and scholarship assistance to Vermonters (and students who attend Vermont schools)! If you want money to help pay for college, apply through VSAC. They will also provide quite a bit of help and information in the process. We will give students the VSAC guides to applying for financial aid. VSAC also provides a booklet that lists a number of local, regional and state scholarships available. The deadlines vary considerably. Apply online or get further information at www.vsac.org or 800-642-3177.
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
This is the Federal equivalent of VSAC. You must apply with them as well. You may apply online or by mail, but the online and paper versions of these forms are very different. It is not very helpful to fill out the paper version prior to filling out the online version, but there is a worksheet available to collect your data prior to applying online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ There are benefits to applying online because you can check and revise information quickly.
College Scholarship Service (CSS)/Financial Aid PROFILE
If you are seeking needs-based financial aid, some private colleges and universities will require you to submit the CSS/PROFILE, which is administered by a division of the College Board. There is a fee associated with filling out this form, but the fee is waived at the end of the application if your financial situation indicates. If the school requires it, it must be done in addition to the FAFSA form. Read more about this at www.fafsa.com/profile.htm Always check with your college/university for its requirements.
There are many places to find scholarships for colleges. Many of these are small, but some can be rather large. Click here for information about many resources for scholarship searches. Students can begin searching for scholarships at any time during their high school career.