A Helping Hand for College
Approximately 60% of all students enrolled in higher education receive some type of financial assistance. Financial aid is provided to students for many reasons. The primary reason is to increase the accessibility for families that are unable to afford the full cost of higher education. Scholarships, loans, and federal work-studies are categories of financial aid given to help students further their education.
A scholarship is a financial award given to students in recognition of achievement, such as academics or athletics. Other scholarships are awarded to minorities and women to increase their access to higher education. In many cases, the qualifications for a scholarship include financial need as well. A scholarship does not require repayment. Most scholarships are given to students who attend business schools, technical and vocational schools, nursing schools and 2-year colleges.
A loan is an award offered by various government and private agencies. The interest rates are lower than those of regular bank loans, and in most cases interest is not charged while a student is enrolled in college; repayment is also extended over a long period of time. There are loans for students and parents. Student loans are the most common form of financial assistance to students. They are available for both undergraduate and graduate studies. They are issued by commercial banks and state student loan authorities at an interest rate considerably lower than the current market level and guaranteed by the federal government. The loan must be repaid within a ten-year period beginning six months after the student’s graduation.
Federal work-study is another type of student financial aid. It is a part-time job company- financed by the government and a college to allow students to earn money to help pay educational expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to a student’s course of study. The salary will be at least minimum wage, but it may be higher, depending on the type of work and skills required. The total federal work-study awarded depends on when a student applies, the level of need, and the funding level of a college. An undergraduate student is paid by the hour. A graduate student may be paid by the hour or receive a salary. No federal work-study student is paid by commission or fee. Working on campus usually means working for the school. Off-campus employers will usually be private nonprofit organizations or public agencies, and the work performed must be in the public interest. A student is limited as to the number of hours he can work. The amount a student can earn cannot exceed the total federal work-study award.
Many students look at the tuition of a college and make assumptions about final cost. Students should apply to the schools that best fit their academic needs, make an application for financial aid, and find out what types of assistance are available. Then, and only then, should a student make a final decision based on all the facts.