Paying for College- Scholarship & Financial Aid Basics

22 October, 2022
Paying for College- Scholarship & Financial Aid Basics

The financial aspect of attending college can be overwhelming. High school graduates often don’t realize the price tag of a four-year education until they are staring at an itemized price list at the end of their first semester. The good thing is that there are many resources they can draw from to help cover that cost. The key is knowing what type of financial aid is best for your circumstances and finding out how to apply for the types that suit your needs.


Scholarship Competitions

Scholarship competitions can be found across the country and often help multiple winners each year. Two of the most popular scholarship competitions are the American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest and the Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Both competitions offer financial support to students who meet the eligibility requirements and provide the necessary documentation to support their application. Scholarships range in size from $200 or more, depending on the organization.

Company and Organization Scholarships

Companies will sometimes offer scholarships to students whose parents are employed by them. In some situations, companies will provide scholarships to interns or apprentices who work during seasonal periods. Applications must be filled out and documentation provided that proves to the organization that financial support is needed.

Special Scholarships

Special scholarships are offered in the memory of a child or benefactor. Athletic and academic scholarships are often found in this category, especially if the person or group funding the scholarship wants to support a student entering a specific program. Special scholarships are offered to students who have excelled at either community service, athletics or academics. The students who received these scholarships have gone over and beyond what is expected from an average student.


Grants are another type of funding that does not need to be paid back. Students who do not have a lot of financial resources can apply for state-funded Pell Grants. Pell Grants cover the cost of both classes and textbooks, allowing the student to attend class even when they may not be able to afford it. SMART Grants, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant are some of the other more common grants offered by public resources.

Students can also search through the College Grants Database to find additional grants that provide students with the funding they need to pursue their education. Most of the grants listed in the database require an application to be filled out, an essay or other forms of sample work, and any documentation that shows some sort of financial need. Grant programs are offered by large corporations, companies, and organizations that perform research and are looking to encourage students to carry on their work.

Financial Aid

Federal Work-Study Programs

Federal Work-Study programs are often offered to undergraduate students who have already completed a large portion of their education. The work-study program allows students to work in their chosen field while continuing to learn and work toward the desired end. Work-study programs provide financial resources to students who have already proven their commitment to completing a desired course of study. In this type of situation, the money put toward the student’s education is often matched by the company the student works for.

Veterans’ Benefits

Veterans who have completed their term of service are provided with a variety of financial aid and benefits options to help them attend college. The most common benefit is referred to as the “GI Bill”. Former servicemen and women who have been honorably discharged can use their veterans’ benefits to pay for college, allowing them to earn a degree without having to take on multiple student loans.

In order to apply for GI Bill educational assistance, you will need to identify the bill you are eligible for and follow the application requirements. Many universities offer education benefits and awards for veterans to help them reach their goals of completing a college degree program. If you are a military veteran with questions about benefits and other forms of financial assistance available to veterans, their spouses, and dependents, contact the financial aid or veterans services office at the college or university you are interested in. Officials in these departments should be able to help you with information designed to help veterans.

Federal Loans

There are several federal loan programs available to students through the federal government. Repayment of these loans can be deferred until after your education is complete or during any time period when you are out of work, which makes them attractive options to many prospective students. Federal student loans also have a much lower interest rate than privately funded loans, adding to their appeal. If you apply for a federal loan, you will have to wait while your loan application is reviewed. Once your loan has been approved, you will receive additional instructions and paperwork to sign, before you can use the money to pay for classes and other educational costs.

In Closing

There are many financial resources for you to pursue when you are ready to attend college. Amounts, application requirements, documentation requirements, and repayment information (if applicable) will be different with each type of scholarship, grant or loan. Take the time to do your research and find the right type of financial aid that is right for you. Privately funded student loans are not your only option. There are several ways you can find the financial support you need that will allow you to get the education you want without going into debt.