The 411 on Financial Aid

The lack of money is never a viable excuse for not continuing your education. Many people are under the impression that they cannot afford to go back to school. But, that is far from being true. The federal government offers several types of financial aid for students, including grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs. The US Department of Education awards approximately $150 billion to about 14 million students per year.


There are four types of federal grants available to students:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Grants are awarded on the need-basis. Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. The maximum amount available for a pell grant $5,645. However, the exact amount each individual will receive will be determined by these factors:

  • the student’s financial need
  • the cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, computer, and, even dependent care
  • whether the student is enrolled full- or part-time
  • whether you plan to attend for a full academic year

Each student is only eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant for 12 semesters, or about six years. Students are not required to pay back grants, except under certain circumstances.For example, if you withdraw before completing the enrollment period, you may be required to pay back some, if not, all of the pell grant.


Scholarships are awarded according to the merit-basis. Scholarships are usually awarded to students who have excelled in academics or sports. Some scholarships are awarded simply because of a group you are a part of, or because the company one’s parents work for offer a scholarship. There are so many scholarships being offered by different organizations and companies I can’t list them all. Scholarships, and grants, are considered “gift money,” because they do not have to be paid back. To find out how you would find and apply for the various scholarships available, go to the public library or look them up online.


Another way to fund your education is to participate in a work-study program. A work-study program offers graduate and undergraduate students, that have financial need, part-time jobs to earn money to pay on their education expenses. Most work-study jobs pay minimum wage, there are some exceptions, depending on what field you are going into and what company you do your work-study with.


Federal student loans are available, also. You will be offered two student loan programs when you apply for financial aid. Remember, loans must be repaid, with interest. Payments will start six months after you graduate.
The two loan programs are:

  • The Federal Perkins Loan Program – This program provides undergraduate and graduate students low-interest loans. The amount of the loan received will be based on the student’s need, financially, how much is received in other forms of financial aid, and the availability of funds at the student’s college.
  • The William D. Ford Direct Loan Program – This program allows students and parents to borrow money from the government, with low-interest rates. Direct Stafford Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students, the Direct PLUS loan is available to parents of enrolled students.

Subsidized loans are based on financial need and are available to undergraduate students, only. The federal government pays interest on subsidized loans while the borrow is still enrolled in college and during deferment. Unsubsidized loans are based on the cost of the student’s education and other aid received. The borrower is responsible for all interest on unsubsidized loans. A Direct Stafford Loan may be either, subsidized or unsubsidized, but DirectPLUS loans are always subsidized.

As you can see, there are funds available to those who want to better themselves. There is no excuse not to better your life by continuing your education.


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