February 11, 2021
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, more American families are experiencing financial difficulties. Paying for college was hard enough without throwing the pandemic, job insecurity, and fewer food, retail, and service jobs hiring into the mix. To help families and current high school seniors with worries about paying for college in 2021, here are some suggestions.
The 2021-2022 FAFSA season has started. Everyone is eligible to file for federal financial aid so you should fill out your FAFSA regardless of your financial situation. By filling one out, you are letting the college know you are looking for financial help. The financial aid office then uses this information to see if you qualify for federal grants, scholarships, and loans.
Scholarship and grant applications can be very time-consuming but can prove to be very valuable. Besides scholarships usually offered by colleges and universities, there are many other private scholarships to apply for. Some corporations or local community groups provide tuition assistance for both need and merit that are worth looking into. Make an appointment with the financial aid office at your college or university. The financial aid professionals often know of many different scholarship, grant, or work-study programs you may be eligible for.
Some colleges may have emergency aid available for short-term financial assistance. Colleges and universities usually set aside some funds for emergency purposes. For example, if you lost your job or have a medical emergency, reach out to your college if you are in need of financial help.
Most incoming freshmen who take a gap year usually do so for travel or work, both of which are high risk and limited with the current pandemic restrictions. Recent shutdowns have caused high unemployment rates that might affect job opportunities. If you are able to find work, it may be worth spending a gap year saving up for college.
Planning for college is a difficult task, especially when it comes to paying for it. It is smart to understand your options before applying for college. So, do a lot of research to find the best options available.