Starting college is a pivotal time in your life, but having to take out a lot of student loans can one day damper your memories of college. Therefore, it is vital that you take the time to apply for federal grants and state grants because this can lessen your need for loans and in some instances entirely eliminate your need to take out student loans. Therefore, when you decide on the college that you want to attend, make out your applications and once you have received your acceptance letter, you will want to fill out the Federal Student Aid Report, which is now available online.
The Federal Student Aid Report is looking for key pieces of information to determine your eligibility for grant money. First, how much did you or your parents earn the previous year, this depends if you are still a dependent or independent. The report also wants to know your living situation, are you planning to live on campus, off-campus, or with your parents since all of these help to determine the grant amount you will receive. Once you have the report filled out with the school or schools you are interested in attending, you submit it and then based on the information you gave, the package for your aid is sent to the school’s financial aid office, which tells them what you are eligible for in the way of grants.
Typically, your financial aid department at your selected school will put together a financial aid package, which will include the maximum amount of grant money that is allotted to you based on your income and living situation. Remember, grant money does not have to be paid back, so this is what you want to get first and foremost. The Pell Grant from the federal government applied to your tuition is given by way of an award for the entire school year and split into two or more semesters depending on how the semesters run at your chosen college.
When your financial aid package is put together, the school uses all the grant money allotted to you and then if there is a deficit, lets you know how much student loans you can take out. Many times student loans are necessary, but remember if you must borrow, only borrow what you need because you will often be able to take out maximum amounts for living expenses but these have to be paid back with interest roughly six months after you graduate, payments to the loans begin.
Make sure you check into state grants that are specific to the state that you are planning to attend college. Most of these grants are in lesser amounts, but any amount of free money is less money you have to borrow for college. If you have excellent academic grades, you can also apply for the Academic competitiveness Grant, which is available if you are receiving the Pell Grant.