Don’t underestimate the importance of College Prep!

College prep equates to colleges you can afford, college education is expensive, especially when you consider the cost of tuition along with student housing and books. In this regard, early college prep is essential. Not only can you get to decide which college to go to and which course to major in, but you can also evaluate all your options for higher education financing.

Here are a few options you can consider:

Federal Aid

The US Government awards approximately $150 billion each year to students to help them finance their college education. The Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FASFA), available with the US Department of Education, needs to be completed. This form establishes eligibility criteria to qualify for the aid program. The federal aid is broadly divided in to three main categories: grants, low-interest loans and work-study funds.

1.     Grants

Grants are awarded on the basis of the financial needs of the student. They do not have to be repaid. Grants include:

  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
  • Federal Pell Grants; and
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

2.    Loans

Loans consist of money borrowed by students for college education, which has to be repaid (later on in life) with interest. Education loans fall into 3 categories:

  • Federal Student loans (Stafford and Perkins)
  • Parent loans
  • Private student loans

Learn more about the cost and requirements for taking out educational loans at http://www.finaid.org/loans/studentloan.phtml

3.    Work-Study Programs

This program allows students’ the opportunity to earn money during the school year to help of set the cost of their education; while also gaining valuable work experience.

Merit-Based Scholarship

Offered by colleges, universities, the state and other organizations and corporations, this category of financial aid recognizes outstanding academic performance, maximum SAT/ACT scores, athletic capabilities, leadership skills or any other special talents exhibited by the students. To qualify for a merit-based aid, a sound academic track record and an impressive college application is usually required. Each college or university will have different requirements to determine an applicant’s eligibility. You have to check each college/universities website to verify their merit-aid award amounts and requirements.