How to get a higher education in the US is almost free
Tuition at a US college or university can go up to $ 45-50 thousand per year. Therefore, in order to get a higher education in the USA, students and their parents often go into debt, which they then have to pay for dozens of years. ForumDaily studied the peculiarities of providing financial assistance to students and collected all the information that will help keep educational costs to a minimum.
Prepare a sleigh in the summer
Long-term planning - you need to start with it if you want to get into a good university for adequate money. Alexander Ivanov from St. Petersburg has been living in Maryland for over ten years. His son Roman is now in the last class of high school. He will go to university this fall, but the family began to prepare three years ago.
“At first we went to lectures and trainings at the school, where they told us in detail what and how to do the right thing for admission. Then we started attending colleges - and there we were again lectured 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 study.
First, the family decided on a specialty - Roman will study to be a programmer. Then the parents analyzed what subjects the guy needed to pull up, and turned to the tutors. At the same time, they opened a savings account, submitted documents to three colleges. Now, in February, Roman not only entered two universities, but even signed a contract with one of them (Maryland College). For the family, the process is entering the final and most important stage - the search for funds to pay for education.
Who to ask for money: four options
The easiest way to find money for tuition is to take a student loan, but this money will need to be returned. However, the student has the opportunity to receive gratuitous financial assistance.
There are four options for such assistance:
- Federal (state) assistance.
- Help each individual state.
- Scholarships from college.
- 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 as follows - you give 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 fees and does not depend 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 assistance, you must be a US resident, and the college you intend to enroll in is accredited by the Department of Education," Megan McClean, managing director of policy and federation relations, explained in a comment for ForumDaily National Association of Administrators of Student Financial Aid.
Sergey Savchuk moved from Ukraine to the States in 2003, immediately after graduation. The family settled in Seattle. Sergey went to the last class of high school. There he studied for a year and only then began to plan admission to the local community college. Sergey says that at that time he did not yet have citizenship - only a green card, but she also allowed the guy to use federal assistance, since by that time he had lived in Washington state for over a year.
“It is important that at the time when I applied for financial assistance, we had been living in the state for a year and a half, that is, we were residents of Washington state,” says Sergey.
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.
“We have statistics that say that in most cases, families with an income of $ 40 and below receive help,” says Megan McClean.
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 can receive 120 thousand a year, but have two children who are studying in expensive colleges - and they will most likely be provided with financial assistance. And another family can 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 a local college, Sergei entered the University of Washington, so he came across the search for money for training more than once. He immediately warns: none of the types of financial assistance covers all four years of study at the university, so you will have to seek financial assistance every year. All procedures will need to be repeated - fill out the FAFSA application, look for scholarships and grants.
TIP: It is important to remember: the sooner you fill out an application for federal assistance, the better.
“The application is available from January XNUMXst of every year, and we always advise you to fill it out as quickly as possible,” says Megan McClean.
Sergey confirms: he filled out the FAFSA form in February, and his efforts were crowned with success - he received both federal aid and state aid. As a result, the guy was one of the lucky few on the course who received the specialty of a financier practically free of charge.
“Maybe I only paid extra $ 500 for my education a couple of times when I was already at university. Otherwise, everything is free, even there was money left for textbooks, ”says Sergei.
It is better to fill out this form online, do not leave empty places, correctly indicate all your data and prepare in advance Required documents: this is a social security number, driver's license, income information (1040,1040A forms,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 the final data about him. All that remains is to wait for an answer, 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 scholarshipsthat do not need to be repaid, and some - student loans. Someone - both.
Scholarships: types and options, how to get them
The younger sister of Sergei Savchuk Tatiana, in addition to federal financial assistance, receives a college scholarship, which she won herself. To do this, she had to show a high GPA and write an essay. An important nuance is the girl's specialty. She is studying at the University of Washington to be a nurse. And, since the specialty is applied, the college financially encourages students to choose it.
Tatiana's tuition costs 23 thousand dollars a year, and she does not pay a dollar out of her own pocket: 75% of the cost is covered by federal money, and 25% is a scholarship.
“Each scholarship allows you to receive a certain amount. There is a scholarship, for which, for example, they give only a thousand dollars - and that's it, another scholarship allows you to get three thousand, but this amount is divided for each semester. There is no such thing that one scholarship would immediately cover the entire cost of training, ”explains the girl.
Tatyana says the choice of scholarships is very wide: they can be for poor or very talented students, sports, on some separate subject. It is not necessary to return the money received in this way, but there are some conditions - for example, for the scholarship that Tatiana receives now, you need a constant good average score per semester. The girl advises to search for options on the sites of colleges and just 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.
“If a person understands that financial assistance is unlikely to receive, because, for example, income is high, then you need to immediately apply for scholarships. Especially if a person studies well, because he has every chance to get this money. ”
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. Tatiana Savchuk is now working in a hospital in parallel with her studies and says that if she wants to go on to study, the institution will give her a certain amount for training.
“It was the same when I worked in a pharmacy: if I wanted to become a pharmacist, the employer would send me to study, covering 80-90% of the cost of training. At the same time, I would have to work for him for three years, ”the girl says.
Another option to save money is to go first to one of the two-year community colleges, which are significantly cheaper than public and - even more so - private. After them, having saved a decent amount of money, you can immediately enter the third year of study at the university. So did both Sergei and Tatiana Savchuk.
In general, if you start looking for funds today, you have a good chance of getting an education and not going into debt. Because in late spring - early summer the admission process will be over: money will be distributed, contracts will be signed.
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