So you’ve decided to go to college or university. Good for you! The question is – where are you going to get the money to finance your education? There are several options for financial aid, two of which are school loans and grants. Loans are borrowed money that must be paid back with interest; grants are money that is given directly to the recipient to be used towards education. How should you go about looking for available loans and grants? Sources of loans and grants lie in three primary places: federal government, state education agencies, and individual college and university financial aid offices.
It’s quite a simple process, and the first place to look for loans and grants is the federal government. The US Department of Education gives out:
● Pell Grants,
● Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG),
● Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and the
● Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants.
● Stafford Loan (most popular federal loan) – See loan limits here
These grants have various stipulations that entail fulfilling specific criteria, whether in matters of demonstrated financial need, specific coursework, or scenarios particular to a given applicant. Generally, instructions are simple and listed clearly on the relevant websites and are readily accessible.
More information about Federal Grants are available here
For federal loans, the US Department of Education provides two options:
● William Ford Federal Direct Loan, which is the largest student loan program of which there are 4 types, all of which have the Department of Education serving as the lender:
○ direct subsidized loans: recipient has financial need to help cover costs of higher education
○ direct unsubsidized loans: recipient does not need to demonstrate financial need
○ direct PLUS loans: given to graduate or professional students, as well as parents of undergraduates to cover expenses not covered by financial aid
○ direct consolidation loans: combines all eligible loans into one loan
● Federal Perkins Loan Program is a loan program in which schools serve as the lender for undergraduate and graduate students.
More information on Federal Loans are available here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans.
Loans and grants are also available at the individual state level, in addition to being offered by individual universities and sometimes even companies.
Each state will typically offer its own set of loans and grants, all of which are accessible from this site here: Complete List of Grants
Schools will also offer their own loans and grants. Usually this will be handled by their respective financial aid offices. For example, Harvard’s Student Financial Aid Services has a subdivision called the Student Loan Office, shown here https://sfsportal.harvard.edu/admin/slo/index.shtml.
The University of California at Berkeley has a similar site, shown here http://students.berkeley.edu/finaid/undergraduates/types_loans.htm that highlights the two types of loans it offers, both of which are classified as short-term emergency loans. Naturally, the type of loan or grants that can be offered by each college or university will differ based on the institution in question, as well the respective circumstances of each student.