Photo by renjith krishnanMost likely you are considering returning to school in the New Year but one major thing is holding you back.  How much is it going to cost?

I know that for me, I would love to return to school but can my wallet truly survive such a transition?  At the time when I was a college mom I only had 1 child.  Now that I have three the idea seems far fetched.  Fortunately moms, financial aid is available for us to achieve our goals this New Year.

At this point you may be thinking to yourself, “What exactly is financial aid and do I qualify?

Financial aid comes in a variety of forms.  According to How Stuff Works, and I like the way they put this; “Financial aid includes scholarships, need based awards, work-study employment, and student loans.”  And that is it in a nutshell.  No mumbo jumbo but straight to the point so that you know what exactly you are eligible to apply for.  Let’s first look at need-based financial aid.

FAFSA

This one is one I have used in the past and one that I am considering for the future.  FAFSA.  This is, Free Application for Financial Aid.  Before filling out the free application it’s important to gather important documents ahead of time for example:

Determining your dependency status

FAFSA on the web worksheet

School codes

Students and parents apply for a PIN

Check application deadline dates

After these are achieved, you can then begin filling out the application.  The FAFSA also allows you to follow up and check the status of your submitted application along with your student aid report.

The other form of need-based financial aid is the College scholarship Service’s Profile.  This application is viewed as the application for institutional or private funds and is usually required by many colleges.

If you prove that you are in definite need of financial aid, you are eligible for need-based financial aid.

Loans and Grants

I know the thought of a loan sounds intimidating and maybe even overwhelms you to say the least.  I mean who wants to pay for college after graduation anyways, right? Well, I have learned that if you really want to return to school and a loan is what you are eligible for, I say go for it.  There are fortunately student loans and parent loans available.  They are becoming more popular as it can become a strain just to pay the rising costs of a college education.

The nice thing about student loans is that they offer hassle-free low interest payments.   Parent loans are even available.  They are designed to bridge the gap between student financial aid rewards and cost of attendance.

Grants are the best type of financial aid available.  Why?  Well get this.  With grants you do not have to repay.  That’s right, never.  You can’t beat that.  A grant is determined on an individual’s financial need and are usually give by federal and state.  An example of a grant, and you may have heard of this type, is a Pell Grant.  This is the most common.  It is determined by your FAFSA application.

Stay tuned for part 2 of “Financial aid for moms returning to school” on Thursday where I will discuss Federal Work-Study and Non-Work-Study jobs.

I would like to hear from you as far as what was discussed thus far.  What is your experience with need-based financial aid?  Do you have any tips to share concerning those experiences?  Please share.

Source: How Stuff Works: Financial Aid, Dave Roos and Jim Belvin

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