Financial Aid

Attending business school is not cheap. You must pay for tuition, books, fees, and perhaps room and board. Also, you will probably need to forego having a full-time job while in school, so you’ll be losing that income. Fortunately, many types of financial aid are available to help you cover your expenses while at business school. Financial aid is money offered to students like you through government agencies, private parties, individual schools, and other sources. Let’s take a look at the main types of financial aid.

The federal government offers low-interest student loans to help you get through both undergraduate and graduate-level business school. If you are unable to find a job immediately after graduation, you can apply to have your loan payments deferred until you land one.

Besides loans, the government also offers grants to qualifying business school students. Unlike a loan, a grant does not have to be repaid. Grants and loans are often made available to students who demonstrate financial need because neither they nor their family has enough resources to pay for their education. This is known as need-based aid. You can also be appointed to part-time work on campus to help pay for your schooling.

You can also apply for the scholarships or fellowships that are available for your business school. Most of these come from private sources and are usually awarded based on your grade point average or other special skill or ability. These types of assistance are called merit-based aid, and you don’t necessarily need to demonstrate financial need to qualify.

School expenses may be challenging, but a little legwork can help you find out if you qualify for one of the many financial aid sources available.

Grants
A grant is literally a gift. You don’t need to pay it back. The federal government offers monetary grants to students who demonstrate financial need. In other words, you must fall into the lower brackets of income level to qualify. In addition to this, in most cases you must maintain a minimum grade point average, usually between 2.0 and 3.0, to keep receiving your grant. The minimum that applies to you will be based on how much money and assets you (or your family) have.

The federal government provides funds for two of the main grants: the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Many students can qualify for the Pell Grant. If you can show great financial need, you may also get a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

You may also be eligible for a grant from your state. If you’d like to apply for a grant, you can do so by filling out an Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov .

Federal Pell Grant
Pell Grants are available to students trying to get an undergraduate degree or diploma. However, you may be eligible for a Pell Grant as a graduate student if you are pursuing a degree that focuses on teaching. The maximum you can currently receive per year is $5,550. The government decides whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant and, if so, how much money you are eligible to receive.

To find out if you may receive a Pell Grant (or other federal financial aid), you must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your need is determined by a formula that includes your income and any assets you have (if you are independent) or your parents’ income and any assets they have (if you are not independent). It also looks at the family’s household size as well as the number of family members (other than your parents) who are attending a college, university, or other post-grade school. All of these factors are plugged into the formula and your eligibility is determined.

After you file the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), or the business school you want to attend will receive an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). This will notify you if you are eligible for a Pell Grant.

Business school students who are awarded Pell Grants may use them at any one of about 5,400 colleges, universities, or other business schools. You may only receive your funds through one school at a time. Schools that participate in the Pell Grant program credit the money to the student’s account, pay the student directly, or use a combination of the two methods. You must be paid at least once a term (semester, trimester, etc.). If the school doesn’t use terms, you must be paid at least twice a year.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
If you have exceptional financial need, you may be eligible for an additional grant called the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Students who receive Pell Grants and show the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) receive first consideration for a FSEOG.

You can receive anywhere between $100 and $4,000 annually for this grant. The amount you get depends on when you apply, the severity of your need, the funding at the school you want to attend, and that school’s financial aid policies. The money is credited to your account in the same way as a Pell Grant would be.

To apply for a federal grant, you can visit http://www.grants.gov/ or http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

State Grants
In addition to federal grants, you may be eligible for grants from your state. You can apply for a state grant in the same way as you do for a federal grant—by filling out a FAFSA. You should note, however, that the deadline for applying for state aid may be different from the deadline for federal aid. Also, you may be required to fill out additional forms. Be sure to check the FAFSA website to find the application deadlines.

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