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Funding your Education
Options for funding your college education

Funding your Education

Paying for school is a daunting task for anyone. Luckily, students and parents have many options for financial support. Many schools offer an extensive list of financial aid options and special tuition rates to those who qualify. The Federal Government offers many forms of student financial aid. Learn more about them on this page and by visiting the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) site. Free help is available during the entire application process. Students can find a full list of criteria and applications at the FAFSA site. State and private sources also offer extensive opportunities for financial aid.

In addition, online education offers the major benefit of giving students a flexible schedule. During typical work hours, students can still hold a full- or part-time job and complete their degree program during the evenings, weekends, and time off.

Types of Funding for Education

Scholarships

Many colleges and universities award scholarships to students who meet specified criteria. The greatest benefit of a scholarship is that students don't have to pay it back. However, scholarships can be in limited supply and can be tough to get. Students are eligible by meeting very specific criteria for each scholarship. Additionally, there is often a deadline for applying for a scholarship. >> See Scholarship List

Grants

Grants are an excellent option for undergraduate students with exceptional needs. To be eligible for a Federal Grant, students must not have already earned a bachelor's degree and must demonstrate an exceptional need for financial assistance. Unlike loans, grants are not paid back.

  • Federal Pell Grant Program

    For the July 2008 through June 2009 award year, full-time Federal Pell Grant awards range from $400 to $4,731. The actual amount of the Pell award is based on the cost of education, the number of hours enrolled and the Federal Pell Grant program regulations.

  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

    A limited amount of Federal SEOG funds are distributed to the school each year by the Federal government. These are usually awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to exceptionally needy students, who have not yet earned a bachelors degree.

  • The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

    The ACG is available to first year ($750 per academic year) and second year ($1300 per academic year) students who completed a rigorous high school curriculum. Students must be a U.S. Citizen, a Pell Grant recipient, and be enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program. First-year students must have graduated high school after Jan. 1, 2006 and second-year recipients must have graduate high school after Jan. 1, 2005.

    To find more details on what constitutes a rigorous high school curriculum, visit the following link to the Department of Education Website:

    http://studentaid.ed.gov/

    Second-year recipients must retain at minimum a 3.0 overall GPA. Second-year students not having a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 during a semester of enrollment will lose ACG eligibility for that semester.

  • National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant)

    SMART Grant recipients can receive up to $4000 per academic year. In order to qualify for a SMART Grant a student must be a U.S. Citizen, a Pell Grant recipient, a third or fourth-year student, and be enrolled full time in one of the following programs: Biomedical Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Computer Information Systems, Electronics and Computer Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Game and Simulation Programming, Network and Communications Management, and Network Systems Administration.

    All SMART Grant recipients must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Students not having a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 during a semester of enrollment will lose eligibility for that semester.

Loans

There is a great variety of loans available. Undergraduate and graduate students can find loans from Federal and State governments as well as private sources. To be eligible for government loans, applicants should have good credit history.

Direct vs FFEL Loans?
Most schools participate in one type of loan program and some schools participate in both. It's possible to receive Direct and FFEL Loans but not both types during the same enrollment period.

  • Direct Loans: Eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Loans are repayed to the government.

  • FFEL (Federal Family Education) Loans: Private lenders provide funds that are guaranteed by the federal government. Loans are repayed to the bank or private lender that made the loan.
Federal Loans
  • FFEL or Direct Stafford Loan for Graduate Studies or Undergraduate Studies

    Applicants must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible. Interest rates are lower than those of most private loans. The loans come in two forms: subsidized (government pays the loan interest during your studies) or unsubsidized (loan interest is added to your loan during your studies). A major difference between the undergraduate and graduate loans is in the annual and aggregate loan amounts.

  • FFEL or Direct PLUS Loan (Parent Loan)

    Parents can borrow a PLUS Loan to help pay for their children's education expenses if the dependent undergraduate student is enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program at an eligible school. PLUS Loans are available through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Parents can get either loan, but not both, during the same enrollment period.

  • Federal PLUS Loan for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

    Graduate and professional degree students are now eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance in both the FFEL and Direct Loan Program. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS Loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans.

  • Federal Perkins Loan

    Undergraduate and graduate students do not have to be enrolled at least half-time. The amount received depends on financial need, amount of other financial aid, and availability of funds at the school. The lender is the school and the loan is repayed to the school or its agent.

State Loans
  • State loans are for state residents who attend an undergraduate or graduate program in that state. Each state offers different programs and has different requirements. An excellent resource of information on your particular state is www.students.gov under the "State Financial Aid" category.

Work Study

Many schools offer a work study option in which students can be employed by the school to help pay for some of the costs of education. Students should check with each school for availability and requirements.

Military

Most schools extend their appreciation for military service through special tuition rates and other financial aid programs. Active military and veterans can take advantage of the GI Bill. Under this bill, individuals can use the benefits to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies at a college or university, technical or vocational training, or independent study at an accredited correspondence/online degree program. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers extensive information about the GI Bill at www.gibill.va.gov. However, applicants should contact the VA directly for full benefit details as they can vary greatly for each person. Finally, individuals are eligible for other financial aid, such as student loans, Pell Grants, scholarships, and more while benefiting from the GI Bill.

If you served an aggregate period of active duty after September 11, 2001, of at least 36 months, you may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon program. >> Learn More



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