Paying for Community College
Very few students nowadays can afford to pay for college without some kind of financial assistance. This may be in the form of scholarships, grants, student loans, or other educational funding. The average cost of four years of private school is now beyond $20,000 per year. Compare this to the average cost of attending a community college, which is in the range of $5,000 per year. In addition to the cost differences, learn about other advantages of attending a community college as well as the disadvantages of community college.
College grants differ from loans because students do not pay them back. College scholarships do not have to be repaid, either. For most scholarships, you must maintain a high Grade Point Average (GPA) or you are at risk of losing your scholarship. You will find awards designed for certain subject matter, types of students, underprivileged students, degree types, and so forth. The most typical sources of funding for community college money comes from state and US federal governments.
How to Find a Grant for Community College
High school counselors can be an excellent source of information to learn about the different kinds of college grants and scholarships that may be available to you. Many local community colleges themselves have financial officers who are available to help students sort through the different kinds of college grants that are available for that particular academic institution or an individual student’s situation.
Start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and applying for the Pell Grant. Then look for additional grant funding from your state of residence. It is important to consider that each state offers student grants, specifically to help resident students pay for their education at one of their own in-state community colleges.
Examples of College Grants Issued by State Governments
- For example, there is the Massachusetts Community College Access Grant Program which is designed to help individuals with a household income of $36,000 or less. In North Carolina there is the Community College Grant and Loan program, which requires students to enroll in the community college before applying. The student must be taking at least six credit hours of coursework per semester in order to apply. In some states, even students who are not eligible for Pell Grants may be able to qualify for some kind of grant to help the them pay for their studies at a community college.
- In California, there is a program called Cal Grants, which not only can be applied to community colleges for California residents, but also for most technical schools in the state. So this kind of grant could even help you fund your occupational training program. All qualified high school seniors, recent high school graduates, or individuals who just received their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) are guaranteed to receive a Cal Grant as long as they apply before the deadline.
- For Texas residents, there is a grant for students called TEXAS (Toward Excellence, Access and Success) based on proven financial need of the applicant. In many states, grants for attending community college are designed mainly for those who are just graduating from high school or completing their GED. However, for Texas residents, the TEXAS grant may apply even to those who graduated from a Texas high school as far back as the year 1999. The grant may be applied to public technical schools, community colleges, as well as public universities with the state of Texas.
- Not all state grants require US citizenship for eligibility. As long as the applicant is a New York state resident and legal US resident alien, then the student should look at the remaining requirements and seriously consider applying for a grant from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Eligible students could receive up to $5,000 to help toward the tuition of an academic institution within the state. The total amount of the grant is a factor of the tuition expenses of the particular institution where the student is studying. The online application process requires a PIN number and you can begin the process at New York’s Higher Education Services Corporation. (HESC)
As each state is quite different regarding its rules on eligibility for the college grants that it awards to attend community college, the best way to keep informed about the latest facts is to enquire during your junior year in high school. We recommend making a visit to the campus of the community college that you intend to attend. There, you should meet with the financial officers and gather the details you are looking for. It is important to plan ahead. That way when January 1st of your senior high school year comes around, you will be ready to apply for all the numerous college grant opportunities that exist, even for attending community college. Remember, to be eligible for most state grants, you must graduate from high school in the same state where you will be attending the community college. This is part of the residency requirements and is to prevent people from changing residency just to take advantage of a particular state’s generosity.
Expected Family Contribution and Community College
One of the terms you will learn during the process of applying for government aid to help you pay for college is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount that you and your parents are expected to contribute to your college education. When you understand the workings of EFC, you will have a clearer and more realistic understanding of whether you might expect any funding at all from any government sources in the form of a college grant, whether it be a state grant or a federal grant. One the one side expenses are considered, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board. One the other side, your family’s income and assets are taken into consideration. Based on these two sides of the equation, the federal government comes up with what is called Federal Methodology (FM) and determines your eligibility for government aid. Most state grants are issued after you have completed the federal government’s application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can apply either with a paper copy or via the web.
Get Help Paying for an Associate’s Degree
If you are pursuing an associate’s degree, you should consider applying for the Coca Cola Two Year College Scholarship. It is available to high school seniors who are enrolling in a two-year trade or vocational school. You should either be employed part-time during high school or be very actively involved in community service activities.
The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead. In one’s junior year of high school it is already the time to be thinking about where to attend college and how to seek out a grant to help pay for it. Consider all the possibilities, not just college grants. Check into scholarships, awards, and financial aid as well. Some awards tie in with the professional background of your parents, others may be connected to your religious or ethnic background. To recap, some great sources of information include: the community college financial offices, your high school counselor, your local religious organizations, plus any social clubs and professional organizations to which the student’s parents may belong. Students will find that college grants can be a big help in paying for community college.