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Financial Aid Programs to Fit Any Budget

There are many types of financial aid programs available to help finance your college education. Some types of aid are available only to those students who demonstrate a financial need. Other types are available to anyone who applies and qualifies. The key to taking advantage of everything you're entitled to is knowing the different types of aid available and how to apply for them. From federal and state aid to financial aid from private sources, Student Finance Domain breaks down your many options.

Federal Financial Aid Programs

The federal government's Department of Education offers three types of federal student aid - grants, work-study and loans. All of these sources offer may different federal aid benefits. In order to apply for any of these types of aid programs, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the government. For more information about the FASFA visit Financial Aid Forms.

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There are two types of federal grants, both of which are need-based and do not have to be paid back. The Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) are basically free money that the government awards to financially strapped students to make it easier for them to get an education. It's important to note that each participating college only gets a certain amount of FSEOG grant money to distribute, so if you think you'll qualify, it's best to apply early.

The second type of federal aid is federal work-study. Work-study is awarded as a part-time employment position that must be used to help finance for your education. In exchange for part-time work, students will earn at least the current federal minimum wage to use towards education costs. The amount of money you are eligible to make through that position will be indicated as part of your award.

The last type of federal student aid to look for is the federal student loan. There are a variety of different loans, all of which need to be paid back with interest. Some of these loans are made to students, while others are made to parents. Certain loans are need-based, while others are not. Of the need-based loans, a few are 'subsidized' which means that the federal government will pay the loan's interest while you are in school. In short the federal student loans you should look for are the Federal Perkins Loan, subsidized Stafford loans, unsubsidized Stafford loans, and PLUS Loans. To compare loan types, make sure to visit the Student Loan section.

Private Financial Aid

Private sources can be another excellent source for financial aid programs. These aid sources can help you fill any gaps between federal, state and school aid awards and how much you can realistically afford to pay. And if you don't qualify for need-based aid in general, private and alternative loans and private college scholarships found through sites such as CareersandColleges.com can help you finance your college career.

Private student loans come in a variety of forms and must be paid back to the lender with interest. These types of loans are usually made through a bank, credit union, online lender or other financial institution. You can find loans that are made directly to students, and those that are made to parents. As with any financial product, interest rates will vary between lenders, so it's best to shop around for the lowest rate you can find.

College scholarships are also available through private sources. The beauty of a scholarship is that it does not have to be paid back. Many high schools, churches, social organizations and clubs offer college scholarships to students. In addition some scholarships are made available to students based on their ethnic background, their hometown or other unique factors. These types of scholarships may take a little legwork to find, but free money is often hard to find!

State-Funded Financial Aid Programs

States are other important sources for financial aid assistance. Luckily the FASFA form is used by most states when evaluating aid for students, so you may not have to fill out much additional paperwork.

Offerings from each state vary so the best way to approach state aid is to first check with your home state to find out about financial aid programs available for its residents. Then you should check with any states that you are considering a move to for college. If you're thinking about attending a 'state school' in a state other than your own, you should look into requirements for establishing residency in that state. Since in-state tuition rates are much cheaper than out-of-state rates, you could save thousands of dollars by moving there year-round.

There are plenty of financial aid programs out there. When you invest a little time in the process, you'll see that paying for college is within your reach.

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