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Various ways to pay for college expenses

A+reliable+scholarship+and+a+form+most+colleges+look+for+when+admitting+students+is+FAFSA.
A reliable scholarship and a form most colleges look for when admitting students is FAFSA.

A reliable scholarship and a form most colleges look for when admitting students is FAFSA.

Photo by Anthony Herrera

Photo by Anthony Herrera

A reliable scholarship and a form most colleges look for when admitting students is FAFSA.

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Tuition, room and board, meal plans and never ending required textbooks are emptying the pockets of struggling college students everywhere. Students who are not fortunate enough to have their colleges or parents pay for their education have to find money elsewhere.

Luckily many ways exist for students to gain money to pay off their college expenses. A reliable scholarship and a form most colleges look for when admitting students is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is a form families fill out based on the household’s income to apply for federal grants, loans and work studies when students are on their way to college.

Because the loans are borrowed money, students must eventually pay them off. Students can receive need-based loans, non-need-based loans, state loans and private loans. Once students submit their FAFSA application students will be notified by the school on how many loans they will receive. It is important to know the process and difference between subsidized and unsubsidized when taking out any loan.

“Subsidized loans wait for you to finish school before starting to accumulate interest and unsubsidized loans start accumulating interest as soon as you receive the loan,” head counselor Maria Ortiz said.

Subsidized loans are usually given to those with financial need which is why interest does not accumulate until the student is out of school. Unsubsidized loans do not exclude any student based on financial need and are given to anyone who may need it. Because it is a general loan, the government expects the borrower to pay the loan completely, including the accumulated interest.

Students can also pay for college tuition by applying to their school’s work study program.

“Work study is a form of financial aid that provides funding for on-campus and certain off-campus jobs,” AVID teacher Kristin Simpson said. “It allows students to earn money to help pay education expenses and reduce loan debt.”

Applying for scholarships is a way students can receive free money to pay for college. They are payments or grants awarded to a student based on his or her academic history or achievements. All scholarships are different and may require various qualifications such as the student’s grade point average and class rank.

Students can find various ways to apply for scholarships and they should take advantage of every scholarship that may come their way no matter how much work is required or how big or small the award is.

“Students can use scholarship search engines like fastweb.com or scholarship.com to help identify possible scholarships,” Ortiz said. “LHS counselors also send out available scholarships via go.lisd email. Completing the scholarship application is the hardest part for most students.”

But when applying for scholarships, students should keep in mind the risk of stumbling upon a fake scholarship as some are scams. Students should analyze the scholarships they are about to fill out for any misleading or faulty questions.

“An obvious scholarship scam is if they ask you for money to get money,” Ortiz said. “[A] personal experience [I had was when] my parents were approached by a person promising to have college money for me when I graduated. Since my parents were unfamiliar with the American education system and did not speak English very well they believed him and started to make payments to this company. They ended up making monthly payments for life insurance and not college.”

Applying for scholarships and finding other ways to pay off college tuition is crucial when attempting to get a higher education. Money should not be a reason why a student does not attend college and achieve their dreams when there are endless ways to receive money.

“Always apply even if you don’t think you’ll get it,” senior scholarship winner Jessica Brewer said. “And don’t overlook the scholarships [that are] smaller amounts. They will start to add up.”

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