How to Apply for University Grants and Loans
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The process of applying for university grants and loans depends on the specific type of loan or grant that the student seeks. There are several varieties of both grants and loans available. It is important for students interested in financial assistance to have a grasp of the entire loan process. The information below includes the following aspects of student loan application and acceptance:
- The Difference Between Loans and Grants
- Pell Grants and Other Grant Sources
- Parent Loans vs. Student Loans
- Applying for Federal Student Aid
- Finding Other University Grant or Loan Sources
The Difference Between Loans and Grants
Some college students are eligible for grants through the government or via various private organizations. Grant money does not need to be paid back. It is usually given to students who are studying specific fields. For example, there are grants for those going into the teaching profession, and other grants for those who wish to become doctors and nurses. Additional professional fields also have available grants.
Some university grant money is also provided by private individuals or organizations for students who fit specific demographics. For instance, there are some student grants that are specifically for single mothers who want to further their educations.
University loans, also known as student loans, are not the same as grants. Loan money must be paid back over time, and high interest rates may apply. Students who are worried about going into debt to further their schooling should always explore grant options before signing up for student loans.
It is partially the responsibility of the university student to look up grants that apply to his or her own situations or fields of study, or to apply for student loans. However, the student’s previous school, or the college he or she plans to attend, may also make recommendations as to how financial assistance can be obtained.
Pell Grants and Other Grant Sources
University grants fall into many categories. Federal Pell grants are among the most common. Pell grants are federal grants are given to qualifying students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or other specific educational programs. Many states also offer their own college grant programs. For example, the state of California offers Cal grants.
In addition to state and federal grants, colleges, themselves, are often excellent sources of grant funding, and so are private institutions. Many citizens and organizations have created college funds for students who meet certain requirements set forth by those individuals or organizations. There are several websites and other resources that list available private grants for students.
Parent Loans vs. Student Loans
There are some university students who may not qualify for grant assistance, or the grant assistance that they receive may only cover part of their schooling. Students who require additional help can explore loan options with their parents. If the parents are agreeable and able, they can often apply for PLUS loans through the federal government. The advantage of doing so is that parents can often qualify to receive higher amounts of money, making it possible to cover the student’s schooling costs in full. However, parents are entirely responsible for paying off those loans. Many students may prefer to look into standard student loans in order to be responsible for paying off their own debts.
Federal student loans come in several varieties, such as Perkins loans, which are standard student loans, and undergraduate loans called Stafford loans. Students who meet the other qualifications of the loan programs do not need to worry about proving that they have credit histories to receive assistance in the form of either loan. The students also do not have to make loan payments until they are out of school for six months. However, paying the loans back faster usually means that the students will accumulate less interest.
Applying for Federal Student Aid
Students who wish to apply for federal student aid must fill out a form called FAFSA, which stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” The FAFSA form can be printed online and mailed to the United States Department of Education (USDE). Students can then use the USDE’s resources to explore federal loan and grant options that fit their needs and qualifications.
Finding Other University Grant or Loan Sources
Students who do not want federal grants and loans, do not qualify for them or require additional assistance can focus on finding other loan and grant sources. Students should first check with the college they are attending to see what financial aid is offered by the college, itself, and also, whether the college staff is aware of any good aid packages offered by outside sources. Students can also use the internet to check grant and loan databases.
Selecting a grant is often as simple as finding one for which the student is qualified. However, selecting a loan can be a bit more difficult. When applying for a student loan anywhere, the student must be very careful to check the reputation of the organization providing the loan, as well as the terms of the loan, itself. There are loan comparison websites and tools available that can help students make the best choices when selecting their university loan programs.