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What About Financial Aid for College?

Is the financial aid game worth playing? There’s a tremendous amount of paperwork involved. The rules are obscure and often don’t seem to make sense. And it takes time.

But make no mistake, the game is definitely worth playing. Financial aid can be a valuable source of funds to help finance your child’s college education.

And you don’t necessarily have to be “poor” to qualify. In some circumstances, families with incomes of $75,000 or more can qualify.

U.S. Government Grants

The federal government provides student aid through a variety of programs. The most prominent of these are Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOGs).

Pell Grants are administered by the U.S. government. They are awarded on the basis of college costs and a financial aid eligibility index. The eligibility index takes into account factors such as family income and assets, family size, and the number of college students in the family.

By law, Pell Grants can provide up to $4,000 per year per student. Due to financial constraints, however, Pell Grants generally don’t exceed $2,700 per year. Students must reapply every year to receive aid.

Most colleges will not process applications for Stafford loans until needy students have applied for Pell Grants. Students with Pell Grants also receive priority consideration for SEOGs.

Students who can demonstrate severe financial need may also receive a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. SEOGs award up to $4,000 per year per student.

State Grants

Many states offer grant programs as well. Each state’s grant program is different, but they do tend to award grants exclusively to state residents who are planning to attend an in-state school. Many give special preference to students planning to attend a state school.

College Grants

Finally, many colleges and universities offer specialized grant programs. This is particularly true of older schools with many alumni and large endowments. These grants are usually based on need or scholastic ability. Consult the college or university’s financial aid office for full details.

© 2003 Emerald Publications

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