College is expensive. The good news is there are resources available. By combining funding from a variety of sources, you can put the pieces together to pay for your education. Follow the steps below to access money for college.
Step 1) Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This is the key to accessing all federal and state aid, as well as need-based scholarships. The FAFSA can be completed at https://studentaid.gov/. It will open in December 2023 – exact date to be announced. You can start the FAFSA process by creating an FSAID.
Step 2) Apply for institutional aid. Institutional aid is money that comes from your college or university. Each school has their own process. Some schools use your admissions application as your aid application. Other schools require separate applications. Each school also has their own deadlines. Some deadlines are as early as November 1. Check in with each college you are applying to to find out their process.
Step 3) Find and apply for private scholarships. Private scholarships are funds for college that come from foundations, non-profits, employers, and more. A great place to start is the My Scholarship Central Search Tool. This will connect you to the major scholarship providers across the state. Find your county and see the scholarship providers in your area. You can also apply on My Scholarship Central.
Step 4) Explore “self help” funding options like work study and student loans. After receiving federal, state, and institutional aid, as well as private scholarships, you may still have a gap to cover. Work study is a program where you find a job and work to help pay for your education. Student loans are money borrowed that must be paid back, usually with interest.
Have questions about the process? Talk to your high school counselor, college advisor, admissions representative, or financial aid staff. They are all trained to support students through the financial aid process.