Financial Aid Sources
Federal Student Aid www.studentaid.ed.gov
Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of student financial aid in the United States, offering more than $150 billion a year to over 15 million students.
In addition to loans, the federal government provides 44% of all grants and scholarships, which do not need to be repaid.
To access the aid, apply to FAFSA (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid) at fafsa.ed.gov as early as possible starting January 1 of senior year to be eligible. Some funding is on a first-come, first-served basis for those who qualify. Click here to read the eligibility requirements. All families should consider apply for FAFSA as it is needed for work study, federal loans, and even some merit based scholarships.
Discuss the application process with your school counselor and review information and tips to apply on the Federal Student Aid website. studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-outTypes of aid available through FAFSA include:
Scholarships and Grants (view here) including:
- Pell Grants pay up to a certain amount per year based on criteria such as family income and the cost of school. (The maximum award in 2014-2015 is $5,730.)
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) provide an additional $100 to $4,000 to those with the most financial need.
- The federal work-student program awards eligible students part-time jobs on the college campus as part of their financial aid package. These jobs are limited to 20 hours (or less) per week to limit the impact on academics. Examples of work-study jobs are food service worker, lifeguard, and library assistant. The student's salary is paid directly into their student account to help cover tuition and other college charges.
Federal Student Loans (view here) typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options. The types of loans include:
- Direct Subsidized: A need-based loan with a low interest rate. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest rate on a Direct Subsidized Loan while you’re in school at least half time or the first 6 months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period), and during a period of approved deferment (postponement of loan payments). (The interest rate for 2013 was 3.86%.)
- Direct Unsubsidized: A low interest rate loan that is not need-based. You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If you choose not to pay the interest while in college/postsecondary programs and during grace periods and deferment periods, your interest will accrue and be added to the principal amount of your loan. (The interest rate for 2013 was 3.86%). If possible, it is advised to pay the interest on unsubsidized loans while in college. It will decrease the total cost of the loan significantly.
Almost 36% of student financial aid comes from colleges, universities, and programs that offer a variety of need-based grants and merit-based scholarships that students do not have to repay. Search for opportunities and application guidelines on the college or institution websites.
- Note that many institutional scholarships have application deadlines prior to January 1 of senior year.
- Most institutional aid money is only for incoming freshman and not available to transfer students.
- Check if award/grant/scholarship/loan package is for one year or renewable and what students need to do to renew it each year, (i.e., maintaining a minimum GPA or full-time student status).
- Generally your college gives you an aid package that is a 4 year plan, but recognize that tuition, fees, and other costs tend to increase annually.
- Speak with your school counselor about questions and guidance on which options meet your needs.
- Merit-based awards and scholarships have minimum GPAs and ACT/SAT scores, which are often posted on the college websites. Currently there are 22 times more merit aid scholarships being awarded than athletic scholarships.
Institutional financial aid is determined either by information submitted in the FAFSA or the CSS PROFILE. Most public school use the FAFSA while the CSS PROFILE is used by many private schools and a few public schools. The CSS PROFILE is the College Board's online financial application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government.
Some career pathways provide opportunities for students to attend classes or complete coursework while receiving on-the-job training. The cost for this education varies based on the specific field and program. The work done as part of the on-the-job training often offsets, and in some cases pays for, the cost of the program.
The following are examples:
Speak to your school counselor and search the Internet and PPS career site to learn about programs and opportunities that are right for you.
OSAC (Oregon Student Assistance Commission) provides over $118 million in grants and scholarships to thousands of Oregonians each year to help offset the costs of vocational, two-year college, four-year college, and graduate programs.
OSAC programs include:
- Oregon Promise is a state grant that helps to cover tuition costs at any Oregon Community college for recent high school graduates and GED test graduates.
- The Oregon Opportunity Grant helps Oregonians based on financial need (including US citizens, eligible non-citizens, and members of Native American trips with ties to Oregon).
- The Chafee Grant helps current and former foster care youth to pay for postsecondary education and training.
- The Childcare Grant helps students with children or legal dependents pay for childcare while the student is enrolled in postsecondary education or training.
- Scholarships are available for a wide range of criteria. OSAC administers many private scholarships from organizations such as labor unions, Oregon businesses, and individuals. Also, many high school -specific scholarships are administered through OSAC.
For help applying, speak to your school counselor and review application information on the OSAC site.
Private scholarships are offered by organizations and individuals. They are also called “outside scholarships because they are not offered through the school. These scholarships vary quite a bit with a range of eligibility, funding, and application criteria. Because of the wide range of available options, researching scholarships that meet your needs is important.
Statistics show that students have the best chance receiving scholarships that require an essay as part of the application or those that are local and have more locally targeted qualifications.
Research private scholarships available on your high school’s Naviance site.
Note whether the scholarship is for one year or renewable. If it is renewable, understand what students need to do to renew it each year (i.e., minimum GPAs or full time student status). If you have received federal or school-based financial aid, consider that students must report these “outside scholarships” to the college’s financial aid department. Schools sometimes elect to reduce their financial award package, although many schools will work with the student to minimize this.
Some “outside scholarships” come with non-monetary perks, such as mentoring, leadership development, summer employment, and networking opportunities.
Beware of scholarship scams. As a general rule, you should not have to pay money to get a scholarship or for a scholarship search.
Many private scholarships are available for students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Speak to your school counselors and research opportunities to find scholarships that are right for you.
A student’s financial aid package may include grants, scholarships, federal loans, and state loans but can still have a financial gap that needs to be filled to pay for education.
(cost of attending college) minus (financial aid money + savings) = financial gap
Private loans can be obtained through the private market, which will consider your credit scores and may require parents to co-sign on the loans.
Home Equity Loans
For families with equity in their homes, the home equity line of credit may offer interest rates lower than bank loans and the interest is tax deductible.
Private College Loans
- Banks and credit unions provide private loans for college.
- Unlike federal loans, the interest rates on these loans are often variable. (This means that the interest rate charged on the outstanding balance will vary as market interest rates change. As a result, your payments will vary as well.)
- Often times, smaller private lenders, such as credit unions, have better interest rates, but they can be harder to find.
- Use these sites to search for private loans.