“How will I pay for college?” That’s a question that everyone considering higher education is asking. Investigating your financial aid options can seem overwhelming, especially if no one in your family has ever been to college.
Here are some great resources to help you learn what options are available to you.
- Your high school counselor. Counselors love talking about college—college preparation, choosing a college and financial aid options. Make an appointment with your counselor soon!
- The financial aid office at your school(s) of interest. Each college, technology center and career school is different. Be sure to speak with someone in Financial Aid at each school you are considering to find out what types of aid you may be able to receive at their school.
- Internet resources.
- The FAFSA. The first step in applying for many different types of aid is completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it’s available! Students who will be attending college during the 2017-2018 school year can apply now at FAFSA.gov. You’ll need to wait until Oct. 1, 2017 to apply for financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year.
When you’re investigating your financial aid options to help fund your education, always remember to go for the “free money” first. Free money is grants and scholarships that you don’t usually have to pay back.
The Pell Grant is a huge benefit for students who need help paying for school. Many factors go into deciding who is eligible for Pell grants, but three major factors are family income, household size and the number of people in the household who will be attending college. The maximum Pell grant a student can receive during the 2017-18 school year is $5,920, which is a $105 increase from last year.
If you must borrow student loans to pay for college, borrow only what you’ll need to pay your remaining expenses after the free money and college work study funds you expect to receive. For the 2017-18 school year, federal student loans will bear the following interest rates:
- Direct Subsidized Loan (Undergraduate): 4.45%
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Undergraduate): 4.45%
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Graduate): 6%
- Direct PLUS Loans (Graduate & Parents): 7%
To find out what types of federal and state aid you will be eligible to receive for college expenses, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2017-18 FAFSA is available now, and the FAFSA for the 2018-19 academic year will be available on Oct. 1.
For more information about the types of aid that may be available to you, visit UCanGo2.org and read our popular booklet, Are You Looking for Money?
Welcome to the new school year! Here are a few pointers to help you get started on your road back to academia.
- Check the Admissions section of the college website to see if there’s a freshman orientation you need to attend or any other tasks that must be completed before you start classes.
- Find out who to contact about meal plans and parking permits.
- Don’t have your books yet? Investigate your options—choosing used books and comparing sellers can save you money!
- If you will be making payments to your school, be sure you know the procedures you will need to follow.
- You’ve probably completed your 2017-2018 FAFSA by now, which determines your financial aid eligibility for your freshman year. Keep in mind that the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available on October 1. Complete your FAFSA for your sophomore year as soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2017.
High School Seniors
- If you haven’t decided which college you’ll attend next year, list three or four schools that interest you and compare them. Important things to consider are:
- School size
- Programs and majors
- Admission requirements
- Campus diversity
- Tuition and fees
- Total financial aid available
- Scholarships offered by the college
- Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or soon after Oct. 1 this year, enabling your school(s) of interest to determine how much federal and state aid they can offer you to help you pay your college expenses.
- Don’t say no to yourself! Take (or re-take) your ACT, submit your FAFSA and apply for as many scholarships as you can.
High School Juniors
- Volunteer! Helping out in your community can give you great experience and make you more successful on your scholarship and college admission applications.
- Start making a list of schools you would like to visit. It’s best to have more than one college in mind so that you can be well-informed about your options.
- Keep up those grades! Your high school grade point average (GPA) will be an important factor in determining whether you are eligible for college admission.
- Consider Advanced Placement and/or concurrent enrollment classes while you’re in high school. This can save a bundle on your college expenses. Ask your counselor for more details.
High School Sophomores
- You must apply for the Oklahoma’s Promise (OKP) scholarship in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade. If you haven’t applied for OKP yet, your final deadline is July 2, 2018. The family income requirements are changing, so don’t assume you won’t qualify for OKP! Visit with your counselor to learn more.
- As you choose your classes each semester, remember that the more advanced classes will make you more prepared for college. Along with your high school grade point average, colleges will also evaluate the courses you’ve taken to see how rigorous they were.
- Volunteer in your community and participate in extracurricular activities at your school. When it’s time to apply for college and scholarships, this may help you earn scholarships.
High School Freshmen
- Study hard and make the grade. Good study habits and a strong GPA will serve you well on your journey toward college.
- If you didn’t apply for Oklahoma’s Promise during 8th grade, visit okpromise.org for program requirements and to sign up for this scholarship program.
Check out UCanGo2.org’s checklists for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors for more information on staying on track for college.