Ten Ways to Make College Affordable

1. File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – It’s the first step in applying for funds that can make your college education affordable, including merit-based scholarships and all state and federal grant and loan programs. The only thing you'll spend completing your FAFSA is a few minutes of your time, and you could get thousands of dollars of financial aid in return. When you complete your FAFSA, online help is built into the system, so you won't get bogged down by the form's confusing financial jargon. For questions you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

2. Federal Aid – Do you want some of the more than $80 billion the federal government provides in grants, loans and work-study programs every year? Federal Student Aid programs are the largest source of student aid in the United States. The only way to be considered for Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, Direct Loans and more is by submitting your FAFSA.

3. State Aid – Your FAFSA also puts you in consideration for state financial aid programs. Eligibility and deadline dates for these programs differ by state, but they all have one thing in common – they require the FAFSA. Learn more about the financial aid your state offers its residents at your state's higher education agency. For New York, it is the Higher Education Services Corporation - HESC.  New York state offers the robust Tuition Assistance Program – TAP and various scholarship opportunities, including the new Enhanced Tuition Award (ETA) program. 

4. University Aid – Colleges and universities offer billions of dollars in financial aid. As an example LIU   annually offers over $100 million dollars to scholarships for students. The majority of our awards are renewable for up to fours years of undergraduate study. Even if you don't have a high level of financial need, you may be eligible for these awards. Always check on renewal criteria.

5. University Scholarships – All LIU students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships upon receipt of a completed LIU application and FAFSA. In addition, you may be eligible for many other LIU scholarships based on your individual talents and background.

    6. Private Scholarships – Look at private organizations, like your church, the Kiwanis Club, or your parents’ employer. They often have scholarships available that no one applies for because they don’t know they exist. Utilize FREE Web-based scholarship searches like FASTWEB and the College Board to find additional resources for your education. Some private scholarship programs are specifically designed for students who were rejected for federal financial aid, so even if you don't think you'll qualify for federal aid, file the FAFSA.

    7. Earn While You Learn – Working while you earn your degree not only provides another resource to finance your education but it can allow students to “try out” their career while they are still in college. These programs help students land exciting internships with top companies and organizations. You can graduate with a resume as well as a degree!  In addition students are offered many work opportunities through College Work Study, and other part-time employment.

    8. Get Involved – There’s much more to college life than schoolwork. Voice your political opinions, work for the environment, or bond with peers who share your interests in music, sports or academics. Many student clubs and organizations have special grant, scholarship or income opportunities associated with them. You’ll also grow as a person, learn leadership, and earn important experience for your resume, boosting your employability and earning potential after graduation.

    9. Payment Plans – Once your financial assistance package has been finalized many families decide to handle the net cost of the student’s annual college bill utilizing a monthly tuition payment plan program. These programs usually have an annual participation fee, do not charge interest and some offer insurance. Speak to a financial aid advisor to discuss your options.

    10. SAVE – Saving for college should continue for students all through their college experience. Saving money from summer earnings and intersession work can assist with paying for both direct and indirect anticipated costs such as personal items, books, and transportation. Students should always look for ways to save money through book sales and buy-back programs. Savings can also come in the form of tax credits like the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit and New York State Tuition Tax/Credit Deduction, so be sure to keep good records of out-of-pocket tuition costs.

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