18 Resources North Dakota Residents Should Know About Paying for College
Did you know that U.S. News’ Best States Ranking singled out North Dakota for having the second best economy in the entire country? They also ranked your state first for economic growth and third for low unemployment.
What’s the cause for the booming economy? You might be able to say that North Dakota owes much of its economic success to its apt and educated workforce.
Of course, to learn the skills necessary to work the job of your dreams, you’re going to need a degree. Fortunately, North Dakota has plenty of sources of funding to make your education work with your budget. Before turning down any schools based on their sticker price alone, take the following four steps to see what kind of funding you may be eligible for.
Step 1: Apply for Federal Funding
No matter where you’re planning to apply to school, the first thing you should do to be considered for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, often abbreviated as FAFSA.
We’ll admit it, the FAFSA is a lengthy form and can take a while to fill out. If you find yourself getting stuck, our handy FAFSA guide walks through the FAFSA question-by-question.
It’s essential that you take the time to complete the FAFSA. Once you finish it, you’ll immediately be considered for:
- federal grants
- federal subsidized/unsubsidized loans
- some state grants
- in certain cases, financial aid offered by specific schools you are applying to
You can submit the FAFSA before you know where you’re going to college, or even before you’ve sent out your applications. Some grants and scholarships that depend on the FAFSA have deadlines before you get your admissions decisions, so it’s best to fill it out as soon as you can.
Step 2: Apply for State Funding and Scholarships
North Dakota residents are considered for a number of federal grants and one state grant based on the information they provide in the FAFSA.
This state grant, called the North Dakota State Student Incentive Grant Program, awards up to $975 per semester to residents attending qualifying public, private, or tribal colleges in-state.
You should also consider applying for some state-sponsored scholarships.
North Dakota scholarships include:
- North Dakota Scholars Program provides merit-based scholarships for up to 50 residents each year, covering the cost of full tuition at any public school or partial tuition for any private school in-state
- North Dakota Indian Scholarships for residents who are tribal members and plan to attend school in-state; both need-based and merit-based scholarships are available
- North Dakota Academic Scholarships for students who have taken challenging coursework in high school and are attending any approved North Dakota public, private, or tribal school
Most scholarships require additional information beyond the FAFSA, so it’s important to be proactive and figure out what materials you need to prepare. The North Dakota Scholars Program, for example, is awarded based on your performance on the ACT college readiness test.
Looking into state grants and scholarships now will ensure that you have everything you need ready in time to be considered for some substantial (and free!) funding.
Step 3: Apply for Institutional, Local and National Scholarships
Beyond all of the state and federal college funds, there are countless scholarships available for incoming college freshmen. In fact, there are so many that you might not even know where to begin.
Make an appointment with your school guidance counselor to talk about available scholarships, and set a reminder in your phone to follow up with them regularly after your meeting. Your guidance counselor is often the primary contact between your school and organizations with money to give to eager students, so it’s up to you to connect with your counselor and stay informed about the scholarships available.
There are also a plethora of school-specific scholarships. The University of North Dakota, for example, awards over 2,000 scholarships each year. The best way to find out about these opportunities is to search the websites of the schools you’re applying to or call the financial aid offices directly.
You may also find the following resources to be useful in your scholarship hunt:
Although these resources serve as a great starting place, you may find it helpful to spend some time searching for scholarships online. Websites like scholarships.com and Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search allow you to search by state of residence, ethnicity, intended major, extracurricular interests and much more.
At Nitro, we are thrilled to offer two scholarships: our Nitro Scholarship for students and Nitro Parent Scholarship. Each scholarship awards $5,000 to a new winner each quarter. You can even win $1,000 just for referring a friend.
Step 4: Apply for a Private Loan
If you find that you still need financial assistance after you’ve exhausted all of the available grant, scholarship and federal loan options, a well-researched and responsible private loan could be the perfect solution for you and your family.
Check out our list of the best banks for private student loans here.
Before you commit to a private student loan, use our free NitroScore tool to find out if a private loan is a good idea for you. All you have to do is enter your college and intended major to find out the cost of your degree and your projected salary after graduation. You will also get a score that tells you how easy it will be to pay your loans off based on the funds you already have available.
Whether you intend to join the workforce in North Dakota, the other side of the world, or anywhere in between, your degree is going to help you get there. Start planning today to see how much you can save along the way.