Education Grants

How the government can help you get back in school

If you're strapped for cash and looking to go to college, you should look into federal funding. The three categories of federal student aid are grants, work-study and loans. A grant is an amount of money given to a student that does not need to be repaid. With work-study, students work while attending school. Since students have a job to make the money, the money does not need to be paid back. Students can work on or off campus. Loans, on the other hand, need to be paid back. The U.S. Department of Education administers these awards, and their website provides extensive information. It does not cost anything to apply for student aid, so it is certainly worth it to check it out.

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There are several eligibility requirements for federal aid. The student must show financial need. He or she must also be a citizen of the U.S., or an eligible non-citizen. Many more eligibility requirements are listed on the website. Federal aid is used to pay for room and board, tuition, transportation, and supplies. Child-care expenses and computers also fall under this funding.

In order to get information about federal student aid, contact your school counselor or the financial aid office at the college. You will also need to collect a variety of paperwork. Check the website to ensure you have all the forms. You must fill out the forms between January 1 and June 30. The due dates are very strict, so be sure to meet them.

There are some websites you should visit for more information. A listing of all U.S. government grants and loans can be found at www.fed.org. These range from the Undergraduate Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds to the Nursing Workforce Diversity award. Students.gov refers to itself as the "student gateway to the U.S. government." The website provides advice on paying for school, career development, campus life and online study help.

In addition to federal funding, students should apply for state funding as well as funding from outside sources, like community centers. Students can also apply to outside loans. However, they might require a co-signer.

Paying for college is certainly expensive, but with a little bit of planning, students can limit the debt they accrue.