Saving for College
Saving for college requires proactive planning and a realistic understanding of the overall cost of higher education. Calculate the cost of tuition and fees for the college or university, and the suitable number of years based on the degree program. College costs typically increase each year. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, college costs are up about 3% from last year.
Calculate the amount of money you must save each month to make college a reality. This information will assist in creating a college savings strategy.
Even the most conscientious savers may not have enough money to cover all the high costs of educational expenses. Therefore, a majority of students headed to college will need some type of financial aid. Financial aid is money that state and federal government or private organizations loan or award money to assist students in paying tuition, housing, books and supplies or other educational costs. Other common sources of financial aid include colleges, universities, credit unions and banks.
Various forms of financial aid are available for students to apply, including:
Grants are free money because they do not have to be repaid. Grants come from federal and state governments as well as the colleges themselves. Most grants are need-based, meaning they are given based on the families’ financial circumstances. Click here for more information about government grants.
There is not much difference between a scholarship and a grant. Like grants, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Scholarships come from governments, colleges and private organizations. They can be awarded for academic or athletic ability, interest in certain subjects, or membership in an ethnic or religious group. Many companies and organization also award scholarship to their members and their families.
If you borrow money for your education from a bank, the government or a lending company, you must pay it back with interest. The federal government has low-cost student loans that have attractive repayment terms for students. It is best to apply for grants and scholarships before considering student loans.
The Federal Work Study program gives funds to eligible students for part-time employment to help finances the cost of postsecondary education. Usually the school or employer has to pay up to 50 percent of the student’s wages and the government pays the rest.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Almost all of the financial aid offered to students whether it comes from the government or private sources will rely on information generated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing the FASFA is the first step in the financial aid process, which determines the amount that the family or the student will be contributing to their college costs.
Students and their parents can file their FASFA applications as early as October 1st every year. The parent’s or the student’s (if considered independent) Federal Income Tax returns are also needed as part of the FASFA analysis. The earlier the FAFSA application is submitted, the better the student’s chances of being considered for many of the grants and scholarships. Late filers run the risk that grant and scholarship money will have already been awarded to the early filers. Remember to check your paperwork for accuracy before sending in the applications, to avoid making mistake that might eliminate your submission.
This is a new journey for many with exciting times ahead for students and their families. In your search for scholarship money, consider applying for the Hawaii State FCU Lowell Kalapa Scholarship Program. Since 1996 we have awarded over $449,000 to some Hawaii’s best and brightest student. Click here to learn more about the Hawaii State FCU Lowell Kalapa Scholarship Program.