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PAYING FOR COLLEGE 

When it comes to financial aid, the first question most students and parents ask is "Where do I begin?"

The best place to begin your search is in the high school guidance office where you will find numerous catalogs and view books from colleges all over the country containing information on school costs and financial aid programs. Many guidance offices also use computerized college search programs that provide comprehensive information about colleges nationwide, including financial aid programs, the number of students who receive financial aid, the average amount awarded, and the total annual amount available for the entire student body. If your school uses one of these online programs, be sure to attend any orientation sessions or tutorials to ensure that you get the most out of your search.

Your guidance office will also have many reference books listing various scholarships, grants, and financial aid programs at the national, state, and local levels. Continue your search at the local library where many of these materials are available in a special "Education and Careers" section or in the "Young Adult" section.

Your high school might also have a Financial Aid Night featuring financial aid advisors from lending institutions, colleges, or the guidance department of the high school. Be sure to attend this event with your parents. Your school counselors will also no doubt be familiar with state scholarship programs, as well as the financial aid programs and practices of colleges normally attended by students from your high school.

Next you might contact the colleges to which you expect to apply. They will not only have information about their own financial aid programs, but will be able to help you with other sources of aid and perhaps help you to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other forms. In many cases, smaller colleges are in a better position to help you with this than many larger universities.

Throughout this preliminary search process you should be asking yourself the following questions:
  1. What are the specific programs that might help me?
  2. How do I apply to these programs?
  3. What are my chances of qualifying for assistance?
The articles in this section will provide answers to these questions and perhaps others that you've yet to ask.

FEATURED ARTICLES

Financial Aid Terms for the College-Bound
Federal Tax Laws Lessen College Expenses
Ways to Reduce College Costs
Section 529 Plans Attractive Way to Save for College
Myths and Realities About Paying for College
The Military Helps Pay for College
What's New in Financial Aid
The Most Common Sources of Financial Aid


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