Now that we’re in January, and many of you have finished your applications, more questions may be popping up regarding paying for college. Here are a few frequently asked questions that you may find helpful.
1. What is the difference between loans, grants, and scholarships?
Grants and scholarship are free monetary awards and do not need to be paid back. Grants may be offered without service requirements like Pell Grants, or with research requirements as is often the case of graduate students. Scholarships can be awarded on various criteria including merit, talent, major, or ethnicity. Loans must be repaid, with interest.
2. I probably won’t qualify for financial aid. Should I apply anyway?
Yes. It’s free to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, so even though you don’t think you’ll receive aid, it’s worth trying. You may also qualify for other sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need.
3. Do I need to be admitted to a particular university before I can apply for aid?
No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. However, to receive the funds, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.
For more information on filling out the FAFSA, check out these questions and answers addressed by expert Mark Kantrowitz in the NY Times Choice blog.