Understanding Financial Aid: A Roadmap for Families
How much financial aid can I, or my student, get? And what do I need to do to get it? These are questions nearly every student and guardian asks, and we know financial aid is one of the most important factors in making a college decision. The good news: many types of financial aid are available and can help make college more affordable, putting a meaningful education experience within your student’s reach.
Because the process can feel daunting, we’ve compiled resources below to help you better understand the financial aid process, steps you can take for the best financial aid options, and what types of aid might be available.
It Starts with the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step in initiating the financial aid process and it’s typically best to submit the FAFSA in the fall, a year ahead of when your daughter or son plans to start college.
Saving for College
Perhaps you’re still looking for ways to help save for college. Many resources and savings options exist to help families get an early start on putting away money toward a college fund. Tools like RaiseMe, which offers micro-scholarships, can help generate scholarship funds starting as early as ninth grade.
Exploring Scholarship Opportunities
Students can seek out scholarships (money that does not have to be paid back) from numerous sources. In addition to scholarships offered by the university—such as scholarships for academics, athletics, music, arts, or specific degree programs—students can explore private scholarships. Millions of private scholarships are offered by business and organizations each year. Making time to search and apply for scholarships that align with your background and goals can result in added financial support for your education.
While some individuals shy away from loans, they can help offset college costs and are an investment in your child's education and, subsequently, in future job opportunities. It’s important to understand the many types of loans and their benefits as you decide which options are the best fit.
Reviewing Financial Aid Offers
Once your child has applied for financial aid through the FAFSA and starts receiving college acceptance letters, you’ll also receive a financial aid offer with an estimate of financial aid they qualify for, including scholarships, and how it reduces tuition. At APU, 100 percent of undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Be sure to carefully review the offer and reach out to your admissions or financial aid counselor with any questions.
Working During College
Financial aid can make a significant difference in college cost, but sometimes students need to work as well to support their education goals. Federal Work Study opportunities and on- or off-campus jobs can help pay for things like books, tuition, or even activities and outings with friends while allowing students to gain important life skills and experience in preparation for future careers.
Posted: March 23, 2019