If you did not receive enough financial aid to cover your school expenses, you have six ways to fill the gap.
Your school’s financial aid office is an excellent resource to help you explore these additional options, even after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).
Apply for Scholarships
Scholarships are usually merit-based and do not have to be repaid. The key is being prepared, because scholarships have deadlines and may require time to write essays. So get organized and regularly search and apply for scholarships.
Ask your school’s financial aid office or your academic advisor about school-specific or departmental (major-specific) scholarships. You should also look for local scholarships from where you live or graduated from high school. Scholarships may be offered by
- community organizations,
- religious organizations,
- fraternal organizations, and
- businesses in your community or that employ your parent(s).
Look for scholarship resources that are available from your state government or from statewide organizations with which you may have been involved. Research companies in your state that are related to your planned field of study.
National scholarships can be more competitive, but don’t let that keep you from applying. Prioritize local applications first.
Just be careful. With scholarship opportunities, it’s wise to be cautious of student aid scams. If you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a scholarship opportunity, contact your school’s financial aid office.
Prioritize local applications first and make sure you meet all deadlines.
Tuition Payment Plans
Your school’s billing office (sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office, or student accounts office) may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.
Request a Reevaluation of Your Circumstances
Sometimes a family’s finances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA® form because of changes that have occurred, such as job loss/reduction, divorce or separation, or other special circumstances. This may be a consideration now that you can file the FAFSA® form early with tax information that is two years old by the time enrollment begins.
Schools are not required to consider special circumstances, but those that do have a process, called professional judgment. Through this process, you can petition for a reevaluation of the information on your FAFSA® form. This process will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.
Request Additional Federal Student Loans
If you’ve exhausted other options and still need additional funds to help you pay for school, contact your school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for additional federal student loans. Just remember to borrow only what you need to pay your educational expenses.
If you are a dependent student and still need more money, your parent can apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Most schools use our online application, but others may have their own application. The PLUS loan application process does include a credit check. If your parent is not approved, he or she may still be able to receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser (cosigner) or documenting extenuating circumstances. If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized student loans of up to $5,000, depending upon his or her year in school.
School-Based Loans, Advances, or Emergency Aid
Sometimes you may have college-related costs, such as housing costs or other living expenses, before your financial aid is disbursed. Your school may offer an option to advance your financial aid, offer a school-based loan program, or have an emergency aid procedure.
Several schools now offer emergency aid opportunities if you experience unexpected expenses or challenges that are making it difficult for you to complete the semester. Ask your financial aid office if they offer these options and always make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions (such as interest rates or repayment terms) of your agreement.
Instantly Pre-qualify, Compare and Apply for Private Loans through a Multi-Lender Marketplace
We get it, applying for student loans with direct lenders is a time consuming, burdensome process, which you have to repeat over and over again. Wouldn’t it be better to apply once, and be able to compare all of your schools’ approved private lenders? Well, now you can!
Using Meratas’ Multi-Lender Marketplace, you can search and compare real, personalized private loan offers from multiple national lenders through one simple, two-minute application. Using the Multi-Lender Marketplace is free to you, and does not impact your credit score.
After comparing your personal rates, you can choose the loan that best serves your needs, and apply directly through that lender’s website. You have the right to use any lender you wish, and to accept or reject any offer presented to you.
By: Jamie Davis
This post was prepared by the author, in her/his personal capacity. The views expressed are her/his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Meratas Inc.
The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, financial or other professional advice. In all cases, you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular situation prior to making any important decisions. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Meratas Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained herein or the operation or use of these materials. Copyright 2023