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Options for Making College Affordable

January 22, 2021

When deciding to pursue college, many students often ask what options are available for paying for school. College is an investment, but knowing what payment choices you have is important. Most students do not have the ability to pay full tuition straight from savings, which is why financial aid is beneficial. Financial aid is money to help make college affordable in the form of grants, work-study, loans and scholarships. Grants do not have to be repaid and are awarded based on need. Work-study enables those with financial need to work on or off campus to pay for college expenses. Loans are borrowed money that is repaid along with interest. To get more in-depth information for these three types of aid, you can visit Idaho State’s financial aid page.

Before you can decide on an option, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an official government form used to apply for financial assistance to pay for college. It is important to know that filling out this form is not a one time thing and should be updated regularly to provide accurate information. The FAFSA can seem intimidating at first, but their official website can help you fill it out with their easy step by step process. Before jumping into it, make sure you review which documents are required and when the deadline is for your particular school. 

If the government has determined that you qualify and are issued a loan, you have the option of accepting or declining. There are three types of loans available: Subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS. For subsidized loans, the government will pay your interest while you are in school at least half-time and unsubsidized loans have interest that accumulates. PLUS loans are available for professional or graduate students who are eligible. If this is your first time borrowing, you are required to complete two online forms: Entrance counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN). “Entrance counseling explains the obligations you agree to meet as a condition of borrowing a Direct Loan. Topics include: understanding your loans, managing your spending, plans to repay, avoiding defaults and making finances a priority. An MPN is a legal document that contains the Borrower’s Rights and Responsibilities and Terms and Conditions for repayment,” (Federal Student Aid, 2021). It is essential that you do your research to determine which loans are right for you and keep in mind that you should only borrow as much as you are able to pay back. Debt can accumulate very quickly if you do not record your finances. 

One of the best options for paying for school is by applying to scholarship opportunities that are available at your school as well as any external ones. Idaho State University offers many scholarships throughout the year, both internal and external, and you can access them on the Bengal Online Scholarship System (BOSS). Students should visit this frequently to see what new scholarships have been added and to update their general applications. When applying, be sure to read the requirements to ensure that you qualify. Many scholarships are looking for certain aspects such as majors, citizenship, grade level, GPA and more. It would also be beneficial to find references, create a resume and practice writing great essays since most scholarships ask for these. 

Paying for college is an investment, but there are many opportunities and resources out there to help students cover the cost. Please be sure to explore your options and discuss with your advisors what options best suit you. If you have any questions or concerns about financial aid, you can contact Idaho State’s financial aid office at finaidem@isu.edu (Please include your Bengal ID in your email) or visit their page here. You can also call them at (208) 282-2756. 

 

Federal Student Aid. (2021). Retrieved from https://studentaid.gov/