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There are a few key points to consider in developing a plan to finance your college education. These include:

  • Determining college costs
  • Investigating all possible resources:
    • Parents
    • Savings
    • Summer earnings
    • Financial Aid
    • Loans
    • Scholarships and Grants
    • Military Service
    • Cooperative Education
  • Securing all necessary forms
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Applying for financial aid as early as possible
  • Not eliminating any college because of costs

The first step in applying for financial aid for college expenses is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Estimated Family Contribution is figured by submitting reports on assets. FAFSA forms are available in the Guidance Office usually in December or on line and should be filed after January 1 of your senior year and not before. Once the FAFSA is submitted, the results are sent to the designated college and they use that information to issue a financial aid award. The award can include work study, loans, and grants.

Here is an explanation of various federal and private options:

Pell Grant

This is not re-paid and the college credits the student’s account. It is for families with extreme financial need. It is approximately $4,000.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

This is administered by the college and does not have to be paid back. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients; therefore it is for families with extreme financial need. The average award is about $4,000.

Federal Work Study

This program provides jobs, usually on campus.

Federal Perkins Loan

A low interest loan (about 5%) that must be paid back. This for students with a great deal of financial need. Loans may be forgiven if student teaches in low-income areas, teaches in shortage areas like math or science, or goes into nursing.

Federal Stafford Loans

These loans carry interest rates between 7%-8% and can be subsidized or unsubsidized (not need-based). These are loan limits, which are approximately $5,500 for the last two years of college.

Federal PLUS Loans

Parents can take out these loans usually at about 8% and are not tied to low-income families.

College Grants

Many colleges have specific grants for students who either qualify for a large amount of need based aid or who have exceptional grades and test scores. This information should be clearly listed in the college materials.

State Grants

The state of Missouri has a number of programs including Bright Flight which provide funds to strong students to stay in the state.

Private Scholarships

Many corporations and philanthropic associations provide no-need money for college. There is much to be gained by applying for scholarships. Check on the Internet and in the Guidance Office.

A word of caution about scholarship companies claiming to find college money for a fee. Avoid them! The only legitimate scholarship search service is CASHE, which will cost about $10. Forms are available in the Guidance Office.

Private Lenders

If you have exhausted all the federal resources and still need aid, there are private loan programs such a Nellie Mae and Sallie Mae that lend amounts up to $80,000 for four years of college. Read What Every Student Must Know About Student Loans.

The following is a select list of scholarship opportunities: