Whether you're a student putting yourself through school or a parent helping your child get a college education, you no doubt would appreciate more sources of financial aid. Luckily, your state provides many resources to help you increase the amounts you've received from the federal and state governments. Below we'll take a look at several sources of potential aid from your state as well as steps you should take to ensure you make the smartest financial decisions surrounding it.
Your state likely offers a range of aid types, including scholarships and grants (where you don't have to pay back the money), loans, repayment programs (where your debt is assumed, cancelled, forgiven, or repaid), waivers, and stipends. Check the terms to make sure you understand your financial responsibility before accepting.
Your state may also offer service scholarships, which are offers of aid to help pay for school now in exchange for a future commitment to specific work conditions related to career field and/or location of need. This especially includes people in fields such as teaching, social work, and medicine. Review such offers carefully, as you'll be required to pay back up to the full amount of the loan should you decide you don't want to follow through on the agreement afterward.
Also note that some of these programs may be automatically determined by your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but it's still wise to check them all to ensure you're getting the maximum amount of financial assistance.
Where To Find State Aid Programs
Financial aid programs are usually offered through a specific office in your state's Department of Education. Each state has a different name for the specific office so your best bet is an Internet search. You can find your state's office by searching “[Your State] student financial aid,” which will usually take you directly to the opportunities available.
Department of Veteran Affairs
You can also look to the Department of Veteran Affairs for potential sources of aid. Thankfully, this is usually referred to exactly as the Department of Veteran Affairs, and serves people who served in active duty, are veterans or had a family member in the military. It may not always be necessary for that family member to be a dependent, so be sure to check.
Make a Good Financial Plan
Your award money may not always be tax-free, and you may need to reflect some of the aid you get on your tax returns. You should seek professional help with financial or tax planning to ensure you're following all the rules and meeting all tax requirements. You might also need help coordinating the payment of qualified education expenses with this and any other aid you are receiving. In addition, you may need help getting all the tax credits and deductions you are entitled due to being in school or having a dependent in school, which a tax specialist/financial planner can also help you with.
While you may not be able to cover every expense related to school, checking your state's funding offers can help you seriously reduce your out-of-pocket costs and save you money.