In the US, there is a strong belief that every one should have the same access to tertiary education. This is why there is college grant money available and the aim of it is to bridge the difference between what you can pay yourself. So, the less income you have, the more financial aid you could qualify for.
At the moment, more than half the students at college and university receive some kind of financial assistance. The system basically works in a simple manner:
– You pay what you are able to towards your college.
– You get financial aid to make up for the shortfall.
So, who decides how much your family is able to pay? Well, firstly, the figure that you would be able to contribute is often called the Effective Family Contribution, nicknamed the EFC. This figure will be calculated by whoever is going to give you the aid. Normally, it would be the federal government and it can also be the college or university that you are applying to.
You will be asked to give them certain information such as a list of your assets and your income and your family size will also be taken into account. A formula gets used to calculate this and then they compare your need to every one else’s needs. In most cases, people are not able to pay the full fees when this formula has been applied. Unfortunately, there is limited funds available, so it gets allocated proportionally according to the EFC.
The main types of financial assistance available are scholarships and grants, loans and work. Grants do not need to be paid back and comes from federal and state governments. Scholarships are usually based on merit. Loans are repayable, some with interest and some are interest free. Work schemes are available to help pay towards expenses. Usually the jobs are around the campus or within the community.
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