Research potential colleges’ costs.
College expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, a place to live, food, transportation, and personal items. Visit online comparison charts and colleges’ websites to learn the average costs but do not eliminate a college that you are interested in until you know the financial aid they can provide.
Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Federal Aid).
The FAFSA determines the amount of money that the federal government and other organizations give or lend you to pay college expenses. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 of your senior year (and every year you are in college) because some funding is limited and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applying is free and takes about 45 minutes (you can save your progress and return later). You must have the following items on hand before beginning:
- A list of up to ten colleges that you are interested in attending
- Your FSA (Federal Student Aid) identification number and a FSA identification number for a parent, if you are a dependent student
- Your Social Security Number (SSN) and the SSN of your parents, if you are a dependent student
- Your alien registration number, if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Your driver’s license number, if any
- Your federal income tax return and your spouse’s, if married
- Your parent’s federal income tax return, if you are a dependent student (if you do not have both of your parents’ tax returns McLennan County CAP can provide information on options)
- Your records of assets (checking and savings account balances, interest income, investments, and real estate other than the home in which you live) and those of your parents, if you are a dependent student
- Your records of untaxed income (child support received, interest income and veterans noneducation benefits) for you and those of your parents, if you are a dependent student
Complete paperwork needed for grants
Grants are the best type of financial aid because they are usually based on financial need and do not have to be repaid. You must submit the FASFA to be eligible for grants.
Investigate participating in the work-study program.
Depending on your financial need, you may qualify for the federal government to pay you to work part time for the college on campus or nonprofit organization or for a public agency off campus. You must submit out the FASFA to be eligible for the work-study program.
Apply for scholarships
Scholarships are money from private and nonprofit entities, including colleges, that does not have to be repaid and can be based on financial need or merit, such as academic, musical, and athletic abilities. Scholarships from local organizations and businesses are available to McLennan County students.
Apply for loans if necessary.
You and/or your parents may choose to get loans from the federal government or from private sources such as banks, credit unions, state agencies, and colleges. You must submit the FASFA to determine if you qualify for federal loans. Loans must be repaid with interest so must be carefully considered. If you take a public service jobs, including teaching, part of your loans may be forgiven.