What Kinds of Financial Aid Are Available?

Posted on January 27, 2014 
Filed Under High School

Beim Notar by Josef Wagner-Höhenberg (1870–1939)

The financial aid department deliberates . . .

Financial aid is available in several forms to homeschoolers, as well as the traditionally schooled. The U.S. Department of Education (the courteous provider of most of this information) awards about $150 billion every year to help millions of students pay for college. This federal student aid is awarded in the form of grants (good), low-interest loans (to be avoided if at all possible), and work-study funds (good).

Need-Based Awards

Grants are typically awarded on the basis of need and generally do not have to be repaid. There are four types of federal student grants:

Avoid Loans if Possible

Get a Jump Start on College: A Practical Guide for Teens by Janice CampbellLoans are money that the student borrows to help pay for college, and must be repaid (plus interest). If you want to avoid loans, you might consider earning credits through CLEP exams before college, or earning an associates degree, then transferring to a four-year college for the last two years of school. You can learn more about these options and how to make them work in Get a Jump Start on College: A Practical Guide for Teens.

There are two federal student loan programs:

Work-Study is an Honorable Classic

How to Go to College Almost for Free by Benjamin Kaplan
The Federal Work-Study Program enables students to earn money during the school year while also gaining valuable work experience, typically in part-time, career-related jobs. I am always moved by the story of Booker T. Washington working his way through Hampton Institute, and he is only one of millions who have chosen this way to earn a degree. It’s an honorable way to pay for your education.

Other forms of financial aid that might be available to students include:


2 Responses to “What Kinds of Financial Aid Are Available?”

  1. Donna on February 3rd, 2014 8:31 am

    The problem is, you have to qualify for most of these options (grants and work study in particular). They’re awesome options, *if* you can get them. With the formulas they use on the FAFSA to determine the family’s contribution, if you can put food on your table and have even a little for giving to charity, you probably won’t qualify for these programs. So frustrating. I’m sure there are ways to ‘work the system’ by setting your student up as independent so they show no income, but haven’t taken the time to figure out that route.

  2. Janice Campbell on February 6th, 2014 11:35 am

    You definitely have to qualify for grants, but many more qualify than expect to. Even if the EFC seems high, it is worth pursuing. I tell families that the only foolish thing you can do with financial aid is to fail to apply to colleges because you assume you won’t qualify. It is easier now to qualify than ever before, unless you are truly wealthy. There are countless programs and options available–it just takes work to find them and apply.

    As I mentioned in the last post, you often stand a better chance of getting a good aid package from a private school. In addition, you may want to look at the Benjamin Kaplan book I linked to in the body of the post for ideas on paying for college. Just remember, there is more than one way to do college, so if your student needs a degree (not everyone does), there will be a way. Best wishes to your student!

Leave a Reply