When you get down to comparing the total amount you need to fund your college education with the total amount of funds you have available, it’s easy to start panicking and apply for all kinds of financial assistance. This could be a mistake though. Before you start dashing off applications to various funding institutions it is advisable to first understand the different types of financial aid that are available and how each of them works.
The Different Types of Financial Aid
Financial aid comes in several different forms, from free money through applying for scholarships to federal student loans and private loans.
The single best way to lower the overall cost of your college education is to apply for as many scholarships that you qualify for. Most scholarships are merit-based and have various eligibility criteria. Moreover, there is no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for. The more scholarships you win, the less the loan amount you will have to borrow. With a scholarship, you don’t have to return any of the money you win. Even better, there’s a huge variety of scholarships out there. There really aren’t any downsides to applying for scholarships, so start searching for some!
Grants are need-based and also do not need to be returned. It’s another great way to get some free money towards your higher education.
You should apply for student loans only after you have maximized your scholarship and grant options. When applying for loans, always explore federal resources first. Federal student loans offer lower interest rates and are more flexible than private student loans. Private student loans should be your last option for college funding.
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