For many low-income families, getting a college degree could become their ticket out of financial hardship. It allows them to access higher-paying jobs and opportunities that were not available before. However, the increasing costs of higher education have represented a problem for many Americans.
In this article, we explore the different methods that low-income families and individuals can take advantage of to obtain the degree they desire. We provide information about grants, scholarships and other resources that is easy to understand and that can prove consequential in the road out of financial hardship.
Educational grants are usually given by academic institutions and non-profit organizations to individuals with high qualifications that require financial assistance to continue their studies. Along with scholarships, educational grants are one of the most popular resources that many pre-graduate students rely on to go through college.
Educational grants don’t have to be repaid, but most institutions have a long list of requirements that applicants must meet before they are awarded the money they need to cover their college and living expenses. For example, they must have high grades and a clean record, and some organizations also request recommendations from academic institutions.
The Pell Grant is a subsidy provided by the United States government to students who are in financial need and cannot afford to pay for college. It was created in 1965 and since then has become one of the most popular educational grants in the world, helping more than 5.5 million college and vocational school students across the country.
Pell Grants are considered as the bedrock above which a student’s financial aid is established. Most Pell recipients enjoy the benefits of other forms of aid that are attached to their grant as a single customized package that is adjusted to their needs. This money is then awarded to each recipient on a yearly basis so that they can pay for any expenses.
The Department of Education maintains a standard formula that it uses to determine which students qualify to receive a Pell grant. The formula produces a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which determines eligibility. In addition to that, applicants must also be undergraduate students who have yet to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Both U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply.
To receive the Pell grant, families must submit an application using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, commonly known as FAFSA. The form has to be submitted before the student starts their freshman undergraduate year and then each year as they progress through college. Each year, the government will review applications and determine how much money will be granted as a result. As of 2017, eligible students are given no more than $5,900 each year to cover their expenses.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is another alternative that students can explore if they find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to pay for college. Similar to Pell Grants, FSEOG Grants are awarded to college undergraduate students and do not have to be repaid. A recipient of this grant receives between $100 and $4,000 each year to help them cover their college-related expenses.
To be eligible for an FSEOG grant, a student must meet certain requirements. First, their family must fill the FAFSA form to allow the government to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This will determine if the student is in financial need, as well as how much money will be awarded by the grant. Second, the student must be a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents of the United States are not eligible for an FSEOG grant.
FSEOG Grants can also be awarded directly to schools, which then choose which students are in financial need and how much money they require to successfully complete their school year. In this case, the federal government covers up to 75% of the grant, while the school is responsible for the remaining 25%. The amount of FSEOG money given to a school varies each year, depending on a variety of factors.
Scholarships are one of the most popular options for students all around the world. Many organizations and educational institutions award thousands of scholarships every year as students look for ways to reduce the costs to obtain their degrees. Like grants, scholarships award students with money to cover college expenses.
Some educational institutions make it so that scholarship recipients don’t have to pay to enroll and attend their schools. This is an invaluable resource for qualified students, paving the way for them to become successful professionals, and most importantly, achieve it debt-free.
Unlike grants, however, scholarships are given based on high grades or previous academic achievements. Some institutions also award scholarships based on individual talent. Most scholarships are awarded to individuals who excel on specific areas that the awarding institution is interested in funding, such as scientific research.
Student loans are a last-resort option for many individuals that desire to obtain a college degree but for a variety of reasons are unable to qualify for either a grant or a scholarship. Most of these loans come from banks, and can become a significant economic burden for students as they go through college due to lack of significant income or rising interest rates.
To alleviate this concern, the federal government offers students the option to apply for a stafford loan. These special government-sponsored loans are made available to students that enroll in accredited institutions across the country and offer significantly lower interest rates. They are divided into subsidized and unsubsidized versions, with the former being approved only to students with financial need as demonstrated through their FAFSA application and Expected Family Contribution.