How to Pay for College

There are several ways to pay for college including scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and private student loans.

Types of Financial Aid

Private Scholarships

There are a number of private scholarships available, which you can search for with Peterson's College Scholarship Search (Peterson's is a Nelnet Company). If you are awarded private scholarships, the amount you need to borrow will be reduced.

Federal Grants and Work-Study

Federal Pell Grants

The largest grant program, usually awarded to those who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

For students with exceptional financial need who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants

For students who are completing or plan to complete coursework needed to begin a career in teaching.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

For students who are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant on the basis of their Expected Family Contribution, but meet the remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements, and their parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, and were at the time under 24-years of age or enrolled at least part-time.

Federal Work-Study

Available to undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. The number of hours worked and wages earned vary from school to school.

Federal Student Loans

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education awards federal student aid to more than 15 million students to help cover expenses. Federal financial aid must be applied for using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal Perkins Loans

School loans for undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

The largest federal student loan program, whereby the U.S. Department of Education is the lender. There are several types of direct loans available for college:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are loans for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Students do not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible.
  • Direct PLUS Loans are loans for graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans bring all of your federal student loans together with a fixed interest rate.

Private Student Loans

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are made by private lenders and are used to fill the gap between the cost of attending college and the amount of family savings, federal loans, grants, work-study, and available scholarships. They are for undergraduate and graduate students and are made by private banks and financial institutions. Private student loan eligibility and interest rates are based on the credit history of the borrower and/or cosigner.

Private Refinance Loans

Help borrowers manage their student loan debt. Like private student loans, refinance loans are made by private banks and financial institutions, and eligibility and interest rates are based on the credit history of the borrower and/or cosigner.