Financial Aid & Scholarship Information
Investing in a College Education
While it can seem easy to view all the financial burdens of college as an EXPENSE, it’s important to remember that a college education is an INVESTMENT.
There are countless benefits to higher education, including a better quality of life, higher income potential, and greater lifetime earnings from employment.
There are several important areas all families need to understand in order to get the most out of their investment, including a breakdown in costs, information about financial aid, and scholarship opportunities.
The Costs of a College Education
Here are the primary expenses you’ll need to budget for when planning for college:
Tuition and Fees
Room and Board
Books and Supplies
Introduction to Financial Aid
There are several different kinds of financial aid available to students. There are four major sources of financial aid listed below.
Federal Student Aid
Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of student aid in the nation. Every year, they award over $150 million in federal grants, loans, and work-study programs to more than 15 million students. Students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify.
Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information about federal aid and to access the FAFSA.
NOTE: Make sure to use the website listed here – there are FAKE FAFSA WEBSITES that charge money. These sites are not legit! The FAFSA is free!
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA)
PHEAA is a national provider of student financial aid services, serving millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing, outreach, and other student aid programs. PHEAA is also how students get aid from the PA state government.
Go to www.pheaa.org for more information about Pennsylvania state aid.
Aid from Colleges/Career Schools
Many colleges offer financial aid from their own funds. Find out what might be available to you:
- Visit your school’s financial aid page on its website, or ask someone in the financial aid office.
- Ask the department that offers your course of study; they might have a scholarship for students in your major.
- Fill out any applications the school requires for its own aid, and meet the deadlines.
Some colleges may require that you complete the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which is an application for nonfederal financial aid that is distributed from the colleges’ own scholarship/aid programs. This information helps a college determine which of their students are in the most need of the financial aid they have to distribute.
Click here for more information about the CSS/Financial Aid Profile.
Aid from Nonprofit or Private Organizations
Introduction to Scholarships
There are five basic types of scholarships:
Online Scholarship Finders
This website is one of the leading online resources for finding scholarships. Students can sign up and have scholarship opportunities that match their future plans sent to them via email on a regular basis.
BigFuture: Grants and Scholarships
This website, from The College Board, has a great Scholarship Search tool, as well as up-to-date information about grants, scholarships, and financial aid in general.
My College Dollars
This is a great website that has information about financial aid, scholarships, and the opportunity to ask questions with experts about your specific circumstances.
This website is a database of thousands of scholarships that can be sorted in many different ways, which helps students identify awards that match them best.