5 Commonly Asked Questions about Student Financial Aid

College is expensive. This is an undeniable truth.

With courses, room and board, books and meal plans, the fees pile up quickly. Fortunately, your school can provide financial aid to help you get through your college years.

If you are like the hundreds of thousands of college undergrads in the U.S., you need some sort of financial assistance to help you pay for your advanced education. Sure, some universities cost less than others, but with all the extra necessities that come with college, you will see your savings account begin to shrink in no time.

But how many students actually receive financial aid?”

A LOT. In fact, more than half of all undergraduates do. In the 2007-08 school year, 66% of all undergraduates in the United States received some sort of financial aid, while 79.5% full-time or full-year students received financial aid.

So if you think you are the only one who struggles with college fees, think again. In today’s economy, it’s nearly impossible to graduate without receiving monetary support.

“Where do I go to apply for financial aid?”

To apply for financial aid, you must go online to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form has to be filled out in order to receive any sort of federal grants, scholarships or student loans. The form does take some time as well as a lot of information about citizenship and income, but once it is complete you can receive multiple forms of financial aid.

“What do I do with my money when I receive it after my FAFSA has been approved?”

The easiest and most efficient way to receive your money is through direct deposit. This requires filling out an online form on your school website (student financial aid section) that asks you for your bank account information. This will allow you to receive money and transfer it quickly to pay for courses, rent, books, etc.

It is very important to know where you stand financially at all times in college. You should manage your funds by keeping track of school payments, personal deposits and withdrawals. You could write them down as you go, or frequently review statement summaries online. Nobody wants to run out of money!

“How much money does an undergrad typically receive?”

It depends on how much one needs. If you can come up with the money to pay for a few college necessities either through your parents or other work (and your income level is high enough on your FAFSA), then you should generally receive around $9,000 for course fees. It also depends which university you are attending. Private universities cost more than public universities, and out-of-state tuition should also be considered.

Here are some more statistics on the amount of financial aid received by undergraduates during the 2007-08 school year:

  • For those who received any aid, the total average amount received was $9,100.
  • 52% percent received grants averaging $4,900, and 38% took out an average of $7,100 in student loans.
  • 7% percent received aid through workstudy jobs averaging $2,400 in wages, 2% received an average of $5,400 in veterans’ benefits, and 4% of students had parents who took out an average of $10,800 in Parent PLUS loans.

*Parent PLUS loans are included in total aid but are not included in student loans because they are loans for parents of dependent students.

“But doesn’t financial aid mean more student debt after college?”   

Well, yes, in today’s society, student debt is almost inevitable. But with the education you receive and the job opportunities presented to you after graduation, you can easily pay off your debt if you continue to manage your spending.

When it comes to financial aid, it’s important to think about your needs NOW. Worrying about future debt will only create unnecessary stress. You should talk with your bank and financial aid advisors about your needs before attending the university. This will relieve any tensions you have about paying for college.

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Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, as well as a Spanish minor. She is originally from Orange County, where she grew up playing tennis. She is currently a member of the UC Davis Women’s Tennis Team. When she is not studying, she enjoys singing, reading, and cooking all different kinds of food. She also loves spending time with friends and family.
Megan Heneghan

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