A Parent's Guide to Financial Aid in College Application Help

Finding a way to pay for college is a major concern for every parent, but there are many financial aid options that can help.

When your child begins applying for colleges, you might feel the pressure of paying for tuition begin to increase. College tuition is an ever-increasing expenditure, and many parents are torn between their desires for their children to attend a quality school and the limits of their finances.

Understanding FAFSA

If you have never heard of FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, you have a lot to learn about applying for financial aid. Even if you have heard of FAFSA, the application process might still be confusing or difficult to understand.

The FAFSA is, essentially, an aggregated application that will let you know how much money your child is eligible to receive through federal grants and assistance programs, as well as how big of a loan you can pursue through federal loan programs and private lenders. While the process can be a bit overwhelming if this is your first time filing, the potential benefits of the application are enormous.

Loans, Grants, and Scholarships

Loans, grants, and scholarships are all means of financial aid, but each of them has unique requirements and different terms for their acceptance. Scholarships are offered by independent organizations as well as colleges themselves as incentives for students to attend school, and the money from scholarships do not need to be paid back. Similarly, grants require no payback, but grants are generally offered by governmental organizations for a different set of requirements. Loans do need to be paid back eventually, but different lenders negotiate different terms.

You may need a blend of loans, grants, and scholarships to cover the cost of tuition, but it’s important to explore all possibilities before finalizing any one route.

Where to Start

The first thing to do is apply to FAFSA. It will give you a solid foundation to understand what federal programs you are eligible. After that, start searching for scholarships and grants with diligence—there are hundreds of thousands of options out there. No matter what kind of financial position you’re in, there are many options for your child to attend his/her dream college.