Paying for College

Paying for college can seem daunting, but with a CORE Scholarship and other forms of financial aid, the cost of college shouldn’t be what prevents you from going.

Costs vary widely from college to college. Generally, private schools are more expensive than public, while community colleges are, by far, the most cost-effective option. At any college, there are more expenses than just tuition, and it’s a good idea to have a plan and a budget in place.

Along with tuition, you’ll have to plan for books and school supplies, general living expenses—everything from room and board to food and clothing—transportation and health insurance. Of course you’ll also want a little spending money for activities associated with college life.

Federal student aid programs are important resources for obtaining financial aid and the first step in the process is for a student and parent to apply for a U.S. Department of Education PIN. High school seniors may apply for federal and state financial aid in January of their senior year by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Apply for an Electronic Signature to complete the FAFSA.

The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is used to complete and make changes to the Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA). It is also used as an electronic signature for completing the FAFSA. Both the applicant and a parent should apply for a PIN. It usually takes 2-6 weeks to receive a PIN so apply as earlier as possible.

If you want to complete the paper form of the FAFSA you can download it here and mail it in. If you want to complete the form online, you may find it helpful to first download the FAFSA worksheet. It’s useful to know what questions you’ll be asked online in advance to save you some time. You can download the 2011-2012 FAFSA Worksheet in English here and in Spanish here.

Students pay for their education in a variety of ways including a combination of federal and state aid, scholarships, grants, and student loans. Visit the following websites to learn about funding your education: Sallie Mae’s College AnswerU.S. Department of Education’s “Student Aid on the Web”, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ Parents and Students, the College Board’s “Paying for College”Education Planner and the PA Association of Financial Aid Administrators’ Students and Families page. Another good reference for additional funding sources is to visit the CORE Scholarships page on this website.

Financial aid is used by students all across the country. Of the more than 15 million students enrolled in postsecondary study in the United States, over half receive some form of financial aid, which is available in several forms. You might receive grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid; loans, which have to be repaid; and/or work-study, which provides aid in exchange for work, usually in the form of campus-based employment.

Most student aid is awarded to students based on their or their families’ ability to pay. Other aid is merit-based; students receive it on the basis of their individual achievement and not entirely according to family need.