Figuring out how to pay for college can be confusing and, let’s face it, a little scary.
However, there are many resources available to Pennsylvania residents that can make the process a little bit easier, including federal, state, and private funding sources. But don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through all of your options.
Are you ready to begin your college career? Then let’s work through the four steps you need to take to fund your college education in Pennsylvania.
Filling out the FAFSA form is every student’s first step in paying for college. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Although it can seem like a long, tedious form, it’s a necessary first step in the financial aid process.
Although the FAFSA can be a pain to fill out, it certainly has its benefits. Just by filling it out, you will automatically be qualified for some aid such as federal grants, federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and some state grants.
Because FAFSA can be complicated, you might want to check out our step-by-step guide that can help you through the process.
Keep in mind, some grants might have application deadlines, so the sooner you fill out your FAFSA, the better. Note: You can even apply before you know which school you’ll be attending.
As we mentioned in step one, just filling out the FAFSA automatically qualifies you for some grants and scholarships, but not all.
When you get your financial aid letters from the colleges you’ve applied to, those colleges will have looked at your FAFSA and automatically qualified you for certain state programs that are available to you.
Otherwise, you can do some research on your own to see what other programs might be available.
To begin your search on state funding, you may want to browse the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) website. This website offers helpful insight to Pennsylvania residents who are looking for state grants and work-study employment. It also offers an interactive guide for student aid that walks you through the basics of financial aid.
Pennsylvania grants include:
Along with grants, Pennsylvania offers a number of scholarships for residents.
Pennsylvania scholarships include:
A list of other Pennsylvania scholarships can be found at CollegeGrant.net.
If you are a high school student, be sure to regularly check in with your guidance counselor and stay up to date with any local scholarships. Stay on the lookout for any scholarship opportunities advertised by your high school.
Another option is to do your own searches online. There are so many scholarships out there, you just have to find them. Check out the websites of Pennsylvania colleges or call their financial aid offices to get more information.
You can search online by major, scholarships for women, sports scholarships, etc. There are also county-specific scholarships. For example, Berks County has 19 different scholarships just for Berks County residents.
Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search is a helpful resource for scholarship hunting. This database is constantly updated.
Another resource for scholarships is Big Future by College Board. There, you can find scholarships and other forms of aid from more than 2,200 programs. Besides just scholarships, Big Future can be a helpful resource in the process from picking a major to finding a career.
If you’ve gone through all your options for grants, scholarships, and federal loans, a private loan can bridge the gap of the remaining difference that you’ll need.
Before taking out a Pennsylvania private loan, check out our free NitroScore tool. All you have to do is enter a college and a major, and the tool will tell you your total cost of your education.
In addition, it’ll also lay out your projected salary after graduation and how much of your salary per month will go towards paying off your students loans. From all of this, you’ll receive a score that tells you how easy or difficult it might be to repay your loans.
You can customize the results with a variety of factors such as scholarships and grants, and you can compare results of different colleges and majors.
After utilizing the NitroScore tool, check out which of our highly trusted loan partners can give you the best rate.
Thanks to all the resources available, a college education is attainable for Pennsylvania residents. You can’t start the process too soon, so start planning for college today.