Part 2: Federal Financial Aid Award Acceptance
Last time we talked about how to determine how much money your child needed for college. Now it’s time to find out where that money will come from.
Financial aid comes from four sources and federal aid is the most popular of these.
Federal Government Financial Aid
The U.S. federal government is the largest provider of financial aid to college bound students. They offer grants, loans, and work-study programs.
A grant is money that your student does not have to. It is awarded based on need. There are four types of grants:
- Pell Grants (for undergraduate students)
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (money reserved for the students with the greatest financial need and is campus-based)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants (for students who want to become teachers)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants (parent or guardian died during military service in Iraq or Afghanistan and EFC disqualifies student for a Pell Grant
A loan is money that your student does have to pay back after the completion of her college education. The interest rates are very low and there is a grace period of 6 months on most loans after graduation. There are two types of loans available:
The William D. Ford Direct Loan Program is the biggest lender for college students. The U.S. Department of Education distributes these loans:
- Direct Subsidized Loans (the Department of Education pays the interest on the loan while your student is in school
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans (the student is responsible for paying all interest accrued during school and after)
- Direct PLUS Loan (for graduate students)
- Direct Consolidation Loan (combines all student loans into one under a single loan servicer)
For a side-by-side comparison of the Direct loans available check out this document from the Department of Education.
The Federal Perkins Loan Program is available to both graduate and undergraduate students with financial need. It is a administered by the school and the school is listed as the lender.
Federal Work-Study is a program that supplies part-time jobs to students who have financial need. This helps your student earn money to support himself while in school. They encourage work that is related to your child’s course of study.
To check out what’s available, contact your student’s school financial aid office.
Accepting the Award
Your student may be offered more than one type of financial aid. If you plan to help your student with living costs, the award amount may be more than necessary. You must accept the offer before the funds are dispersed, but you do not have to accept the full amount.
Accept only what is needed so you don’t end up with more debt than you can handle when it comes time for repayment. You can refuse the loan, or specify how much you’d like to receive.
A college financial planner can help you determine the best course of action when you are ready to accept an award.
Join us next week for more info about funding your child’s education.