How to get a college degree in the USA almost for free - ForumDaily
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How to get a higher education in the US is almost free

The cost of studying at an American college or university is tens of thousands of dollars per year. Therefore, in order to obtain higher education in the United States, students and their parents often go into debt, which they then have to pay off over decades. ForumDaily studied the features of providing financial assistance to students and collected all the information that will help reduce education costs to a minimum.

Фото: Depositphotos

Prepare a sleigh in the summer

Long-term planning is where you need to start if you want to get into a good university for adequate money. The family of Alexander Ivanov from St. Petersburg, which has been living in Maryland for more than ten years, began preparing for their son to enter college three years before the boy graduated from high school.

“At first we went to lectures and trainings at school, where we were told in detail what and how to do correctly for admission. Then we started visiting colleges - and there they again gave us lectures with advice on how to prepare for admission,” says Alexander. “They explained everything: when to start the whole process, what documents to collect and how to find money for studies.”

First, the family decided on a specialty - Roman will study to become a programmer. Then the parents analyzed which subjects the guy needed to improve on and turned to tutors. At the same time, we opened a savings account and applied to three colleges. As a result, in February of his senior year, Roman had already entered two universities, and even signed a contract with one of them (the College of Maryland). For the family, the process enters the final and most important stage - finding funds to pay for education.

Who to ask for money: four options

The easiest way to find money for education is to take a student loan, but this money will need to be returned. However, the student has the opportunity to receive free financial assistance.

There are four options for such assistance:

  1. Federal (state) assistance.
  2. Help each individual state.
  3. Scholarships from college.
  4. Private scholarships.

To qualify for the first three, you need to fill out an application for federal student assistance.

How to get federal assistance

The first thing, says Alexander, his son Roman registered on the site federal student assistancewhere I filled out the FAFSA form (free application of federal student aid). This questionnaire contains more than a hundred questions that need to be given accurate and truthful answers.

Conventionally, they can be divided into two groups: personal data (social security number, how many members are in a family, how many children go to college at the same time) and information about finances (annual student income and parents' income, assets, real estate). Here you enter the colleges or universities you are interested in.

The scheme is this: you provide all the information about yourself, and specialists use special formulas to calculate what federal assistance you can count on. It is given to students who cannot afford to pay tuition and is not dependent on academic performance.

Who can fill out the FAFSA form

To qualify for financial assistance, you need to meet several criteria.

The first criterion is your status in the country.

To qualify for federal aid, you must be a US resident and the college you are attending must be accredited by the Department of Education.

Sergei Savchuk moved from Ukraine to the States in 2003, immediately after graduating from school. The family settled in Seattle. Sergei entered his last year of high school. He studied there for a year and only then began planning to enroll in a local community college. Sergei says that at that time he did not yet have citizenship - only a green card, but this also allowed the guy to take advantage of federal assistance, since by that time he had lived in Washington state for more than a year.

“It is important that at the time when I applied for financial assistance, we had already lived in the state for a year and a half, that is, we were residents of Washington state,” says Sergei.

The second criterion is annual income.

Sergey recalls that he wasn’t 24 old when he applied for the first time, so he indicated the income of his parents in the document. After this age, the student is considered an adult and indicates the data of his own tax return.

Typically, to qualify for assistance, a household's income must be below the U.S. average. But this does not mean that if your income is more, you should not even try. Even if you don’t receive federal aid, your data will be used to distribute aid from the state and from the universities themselves.

Anyway, the situation of each family is unique. Because Sergey advises to use online calculators, which approximately show how much you can count on in your particular situation.

“A family could make $150 a year, but have two kids who go to expensive colleges and they're more likely to get financial aid. And another family may receive 50 thousand and have one child in an inexpensive college, then the system will consider that they can pay for the child’s education on their own and not give money,” he explains.

After local college, Sergei entered the University of Washington, so he was faced with finding money for education more than once. He immediately warns: none of the types of financial aid covers all four years of study at the university, so you will have to seek financial aid every year. All procedures will need to be completed again - filling out the FAFSA application, looking for scholarships and grants.

TIP: It's important to remember: the sooner you apply for federal assistance, the better. Applications usually begin in December.

This form It’s better to fill out online, do not leave blank spaces, enter all your data correctly and prepare in advance Required documents: This is your social security number, driver's license, income information (Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ), bank accounts and real estate, as well as a document confirming the status of a legal state resident.

After completing the FAFSA form, the student will receive a letter with final information about him. All that remains is to wait for an answer as to how much the state can give him. This usually becomes known in late spring - early summer.

Money from the state is the second option.that can help with paying for tuition. The distribution of state funds also takes into account the FAFSA form.

In addition, if a student has lived in the state for more than a year and is his resident, the payment in local colleges will be less for him. Each state has its own policy in financing higher education: someone gives scholarships, which do not need to be repaid, and for some - student loans. Someone is both.

Scholarships: types and options, how to get them

Sergei Savchuk’s younger sister Tatyana, in addition to federal financial assistance, received a scholarship from the college, which she won herself. To do this, she needed to show a high grade point average and write an essay. An important nuance is the girl’s specialty. She studied at the University of Washington to become a nurse. And, since the specialty is applied, the college financially encourages students to choose it.

Tatyana says the choice of scholarships is very wide: they can be for low-income or very talented students, sports, or in some particular subject. There is no need to return the money received in this way, but there are some conditions - for example, for the scholarship that Tatyana received, you need a constant good average score for the semester. The girl advises looking for options on college websites and simply on the Internet.

For example, the here You can find a list of scholarships and dates in which you need to apply for them.

The more applications for such assistance a prospective student will submit, the better, Tatyana is sure.

Other free features

Regardless of the income and form of the FAFSA, each student can also seek private grants. There are many such offers on the Internet (for example, you can search for grants here).

Also pay attention to programs for the military - after the service, they also have the right to free training. Another option is to seek help from your employer.

Another option to save money is to first go to one of the two-year community colleges, which are significantly cheaper than public and, especially, private ones. After them, having saved a decent amount of money, you can immediately enter the third year of study at the university. Both Sergei and Tatyana Savchuki did this.

In general, if you start looking for funds today, you have a good chance of getting an education and not getting into debt. Because at the end of spring - beginning of summer, the introductory process will be over: money will be distributed, contracts will be signed.

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