-Planning Ahead: Start gathering information early. Free information is readily available from:
- High school counselors
- College and career school financial aid offices (where you plan to attend)
- Local and college libraries
- Congressional Research Service: “Financial Aid for Students: Print and Web Guides” (updated June 17, 2013)
- National Policy Institute: Financial Aid Primer
- State of Alaska: Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education/Alaska Student Loan Corporation
- U.S. Department of Education:Explore Financial Aid
- Preparing for College
- Student Aid on the Web,
- College Affordability and Transparency Center
- College Navigator (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/)
- Financial Aid Estimator Tool - FAFSA4casterSM
- FinAid: The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid
- College Savings Plan Network (state "Section 529" plans)
- Tax Benefits for Student Aid Borrowers
- Coverdell Education Savings Accounts: for elementary and secondary school expenses as well as higher education.
- Cash for College
- Cutting Your Costs
- Looking for Student Aid
- Mapping Your Future
- Cost Comparison Worksheet
- Model Financial Aid Award Letter
Beware of scholarship scams -- don't pay for free information!
Sources of Financial Aid
Basic Assistance Categories:
Applying for Federal Student Aid? You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.FAFSA.gov
Need-Based Student Aid: Federal Grants
- Federal Pell Grant.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant)
- Institutional Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
- Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can-- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
- Federal Work Study – Contact your college financial aid office for more information about working on campus to help pay for education expenses.
- Federal Perkins Loans: low-interest loans for students with exceptional financial need are made through the school’s financial aid office.
Federal Student Loans
- Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Stafford Loans)
- PLUS (Parent/Grad School) Loans
- Consolidation Loans
- Fulbright Scholarship Program: Merit-based and highly competitive. Members of Congress do not play a role in selecting recipients.
States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.
- Alaska’s state agency for student financial aid
- Other states’ and territories’ financial assistance programs
Sources to find financial aid from private foundations, corporations, and organizations:
For more information, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
- Military Service Members and Veterans
- Veterans: Education Benefits
- African Americans: Scholarships
- Students with Disabilities: Heath Resource Center
- Foreign students: Financial Aid for International Students
- Hispanic Americans: Scholarships
- Financial Aid for Law School: Law School Admission Council
- Medical students: Association of American Medical Colleges and Indian Health Service
- Native Americans: American Indian College Fund and American Indian Graduate Center
- Study abroad (for U.S. and non-U.S. citizens): International Financial Aid
Interested in public service?
Federal assistance programs seek to encourage people to work in geographic areas or professions where there's a particular need (such as doctors in underserved areas), encourage underrepresented groups to enter a particular profession, and provide aid in exchange for services provided (such as volunteer and military service).
- AmeriCorps: Volunteers who complete one year of service receive an education award for current higher education expenses or to repay student loans.
- Army Tuition Assistance: Additional benefits for Army personnel.
- Bureau of Health Professions: Scholarships and loans to needy health profession students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- e-Scholar: Scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships, and cooperative education with federal agencies.
- Indian Health Service: Scholarships for American Indian/Alaskan Native health profession students and loan repayment for persons working in IHS facilities.
- Military academies: U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Military Academy, and theU.S. Naval Academy.
- National Health Service Corps: Scholarships and loan repayment for health profession students who agree to work in underserved areas.
- Nursing Scholarships: Offered in exchange for two years of service in areas with critical nursing shortages.
- Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC): For students who want to be commissioned as officers after graduating from college. U.S. Air Force ROTC, U.S. Army ROTC, and U.S. Navy ROTC
Repaying your loans
After college, the federal government has ways to help you repay your loans. Eligibility depends upon the type of loan, when it was made, and whether it's in default. Check with your loan officer to find out if you qualify.
- Loan Consolidation: combine your federal loans into a single loan with one monthly payment.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Tools for Repayment:
- Various Repayment Plans (http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/OtherFormsOfRepay.jsp)
- Certain loans may be forgiven in exchange for public service:
If you are having problems with your federal student loan and all other approaches fail, contact the Department of Education's Office of the Ombudsman.