Paying for College – The Financial Aid Order of Operations

Excited for college but unsure how to pay for it? Don’t fret we’ve got you covered with this four-point plan. Understanding each step will give you a big leg up when it comes to paying for college. Here goes:

1. First, save as early as you can. Put as much as you can into a 529 college savings or personal savings account.

2. Second, Learn about grants and scholarships. Federal grants are awarded based on need. Scholarships are awarded based on merit, athletics and other criteria. To find out if you qualify do your research, fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA and meet all of your school’s financial aid deadlines;

3. Third, Apply for the federal work-study program. It helps students pay for college by offering part-time work opportunities. Students must be accepted into the program to qualify. Just check this box when completing your FAFSA;

Another option is finding a job near campus. Many students work through college to cover expenses. While working more than 20 hours per week can cut into study time, the right job can also help you build skills employers look for in new graduates;

4. And fourth, understand your loan options federal student loans offer better rates and terms than private loans which often require a cosigner. Remember, unlike scholarships and grants, loans must be repaid.

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