If you’ve discovered a shortfall in covering your college expenses, don’t worry! A lot of families are in the same boat, and fortunately, there are several proactive approaches to secure additional financial aid without compromising your school choices. Here are seven ways to boost your financial aid and bridge the funding gap.
- Reach Out to Your Financial Aid Office Contact your school’s financial aid office and express your need for extra financial aid support. Your preferred institution might offer additional funds, suggest alternative funding sources, or even consider reducing tuition costs. Don’t hesitate to inquire about potential scholarships and grants that could further assist you.
- Apply for Scholarships and Grants You should definitely explore various scholarships and grants to supplement your financial aid package. Grants and scholarships cover approximately $7,500 of tuition per student every year. Grants are offered by the federal government, states, and colleges and typically given to students who demonstrate financial need. For Scholarships, you’ll want to contact private organizations and colleges. They can be need- or merit-based. Utilize online resources like Peterson’s Free Scholarship Search, consult your guidance counselor, and check with your school’s financial aid office for community-specific opportunities. There are also many “no essay” scholarships out there, like our “Paying for College” scholarship!
- Appeal Your Award Letter Compare financial aid award letters from different schools and assess how far your money can go at each. If your family’s financial situation has changed since submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), consider appealing your award letter. Some schools may offer a review process, potentially matching a competitor’s offer to secure your attendance and college funding gap.
- Enroll in a Payment Plan Investigate payment plans offered by colleges to ease the burden of upfront tuition and fees. While there might be a nominal enrollment fee, the benefit of interest-free, staggered payments throughout the school year can outweigh the cost.
- Explore Part-Time Job Opportunities Consider part-time employment to supplement your income and contribute towards tuition. Whether through tutoring, working locally, or joining platforms like TaskRabbit®, there are various opportunities to earn extra money. For those demonstrating financial need, Federal Work-Study jobs may also be an option to college funding gap.
- Consider Federal Student Loans Explore federal student loans included in your award letter. These loans, with a grace period after graduation, can help cover college costs. Evaluate whether making payments while in school is feasible to avoid capitalized interest. There are also PLUS Loans available to graduate or professional students and parents of undergraduate students.
- Explore Private Student Loans Investigate private student loans to fill remaining funding gaps. Offered by financial institutions, these loans are based on Compare terms, borrowing limits, and interest rates from different lenders to find the most suitable option for your circumstances.
Remember, facing a college funding gap doesn’t mean you can’t secure additional ways to pay for college. By leveraging scholarships, grants, student loans, and other opportunities, you can navigate through this challenge successfully.