When you break up the total cost of getting a high-quality education, you will find that the biggest chunk of money required is for tuition, i.e. admission and annual fees, which may or may not include the cost of textbooks, library membership, etc. Fortunately, federal and state funding, in addition to private loans, scholarships and grants are available for students interested in higher education. There are several tuition assistance programs available in the US, and this article discusses how you can apply for them.
At a glance
Federal and state government tuition assistance programs that are available are listed here; some of these are grants which mean no repayment is required.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Grants: Pell, SMART, FSEOG, ACG and TEACH
- Loans: Stafford, Perkins and PLUS
A brief summary of how you can apply for tuition assistance under the above-mentioned program is discussed as below.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) is available to US citizens and eligible non-citizens who’re 18 years of age; have a valid social security number, a high school diploma or GED or other qualifications approved by the Department of Education. Candidates should also have secured admission or enrolled in a valid degree or other approved educational program. You should not have been convicted of any drug-related offence while in receipt of FSA, must not owe any loans or defaulted on payments on previously-received federal student aid.
The process in brief: (a) Gather the required paperwork – SSN, tax returns, bank statements, ID proof, etc; (b) Complete the FAFSA worksheet online and the signature process – apply for a PIN to sign electronically; and (c) submit the completed paperwork before the prescribed deadlines.
- Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)&Pell Grant: Paid to recipients of the Pell grant, in the first or second year of approved 2-4 year degree program, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the end of the first year of graduate study. The same application filled for FAFSA is used for Pell and ACG, notification of eligibility will be sent and students should then submit documentary evidence of completion of a thorough high school program to the institution they’re enrolled at.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): Paid to students in extreme financial need, automatically considered for eligibility once a FAFSA is submitted and you apply for Federal Work-Study aid or a Perkins loan.
- National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART): Students eligible for Pell grants, enrolled in the 3rd and 4th years of a degree program in math, science, technology or engineering. The admitting institution will decide on the eligibility of students to receive this grant, based on the FAFSA application.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College & Higher Education (TEACH): Candidates undertaking teaching post completion of their degree at a private or public elementary/secondary school, specifically directed towards providing education to low-income or poor students.
- Perkins loans: Low-interest loans provided to financially-strapped students pursuing higher education. The funding is provided to participating educational institutions who decide individual eligibility based on information provided in the FAFSA.
- Stafford loans: Fixed interest rate loans for undergraduate and graduate study. Eligibility criteria and loan information is available at staffordloan.com.
- PLUS loans: A loan program targeted at parents with a good credit rating to fund education costs for their children, covering tuition and other assistance.
- Further information on applying for tuition assistance is available with all participating schools/colleges as well as the US Department of Education studentaid.ed.gov