Financial aid is available to help students who would struggle to attend college without it. Financial aid exists in many forms, and the major ones will be covered in this section.
Some Key words to understand:
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Loan – Money borrowed to attend college that must be repaid.
Grant – Money given to the student that only must be repaid if certain criteria are not met.
Scholarship – Money awarded to a student that typically would not have to be repaid.
Work Study – Jobs paid for with funds set aside to help lower income students attend college.
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
FAFSA refers to an application into a government subsidized program aimed at helping low income students attend and be successful in college. The application that must be filled out can be found at, www.fafsa.gov and then the applicant must apply to an accredited institution in order to receive funds. FAFSA will ask for income tax information, and depending on the age and marital status of the individual that tax information will either come from the individual, or be based on the individual’s parents. Rules for application do change, and in order to best understand them you are encouraged to visit the fafsa.gov website.
Once an applicant has filled out the FAFSA, and been accepted into an accredited program, they will receive different financial aid options. Amounts vary from institution to institution depending on the expected family contribution and the estimated cost of attendance.
The easiest option is the grant. Grants are money given to use toward a degree or certificate that do not have to be paid back unless the individual does not complete a satisfactory number of credits in the semester the grant was awarded.
The second main option provided by filling out a FAFSA is loans. Loans are broken down into 2 categories, those that have interest beginning to accumulate immediately, and those that are deferred until the individual has stopped attending a post-secondary institution. The first type of loan, often called unsubsidized, accumulate interest as soon as it is taken out, but does not have to be repaid until the individual has gone 6 consecutive months with attending a post-secondary institution. The second type of loan, referred to as subsidized, has the interest paid for by the government until the individual has gone 6 consecutive months out of post-secondary, and does not have to be repaid until after the 6 consecutive months have elapsed.
Work study is a third option provided by the FAFSA. Individuals who qualify can apply for jobs through the university that are subsidized by the federal government. These jobs are normally on-campus, or directly related to the college outreach programs, and allow individuals to work on a schedule that fits their class-load as well.
Scholarships are one of the most common ways that students pay for post-secondary educations. Scholarships are awarded for a variety of reasons ranging from grades and extra-curricular involvement to handedness and height. Scholarships are offered by virtually every major corporation in America, as well as by every post-secondary institution. Students need to be aware that merit based scholarships will generally go off all grades and accomplishments received in grades 9-12. Students also need to look at their school of choice to see if additional requirements are needed in order to receive scholarships. For example many schools will look at a combination of grade point average (GPA), and testing scores, such as the ACT, or SAT, and then award scholarships based on an index score. Online several scholarship sites exist, some of which may be legitimate, while others may be a scam. Generally if a scholarship requires money to apply for it, or seems too good to be true more research should be conducted before applying.
Scholarships are available to students of all ages, and students should not wait until their Senior year of high school to begin looking for scholarship opportunities. One resource for searching for scholarships is www.Utahfutures.org Utah Futures is an online resource put forward by a partnership between the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Utah State Office of Education. It offers much more than simply being a scholarship search engine, and students as well as their families are encouraged to take advantage of its many resources.
One big scholarship specific to Utah high school students wanting to pursue a degree at a school in Utah is the Regents Scholarship. Students need to start planning on earning the Regents when they are freshmen. The requirements for 2013-2014 are included, but as requirements can change from year to year individuals should go online to http://higheredutah.org/regentsscholarship/ in order to see what their graduation year requirements are.
- 4 credits of English
- 4 progressive credits of Mathematics (At minimum a student must complete Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and one class beyond Algebra.
- If your school has implemented the Utah Common Core, you must complete at a minimum Secondary Math 1, Math 2, Math 3 and one class beyond Math 3.)
- 3.5 credits of Social Science
- 3 credits of lab-based Science courses, specifically one each of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
- 2 progressive credits of the same World Language, other than English, during grades 9-12.
Completion of these requirements is not enough to earn the Regents scholarship. Students must maintain a minimum GPA for these courses. There are typically 2 different scholarships awarded. One is the Base Award, which currently requires students to complete the listed class requirements as well as maintain a 3.0 GPA, have no individual course from the listed requirements lower than a C grade, and have taken the ACT. The second award is the Exemplary Academic Achievement Award, to qualify students must have a 3.5 GPA, no individual course from the listed requirements lower than a B, and have scored at least a 26 on the ACT. Current award amounts are $1000 one-time payment for the Base, and $1250 for 4 semesters for the Exemplary Academic Achievement Award. Both award amounts have requirements for number of credits that must be taken in college.