19 Resources Wisconsin Residents Should Know About Paying for College
Going to college is a great idea for anyone looking to further their education or prepare for future career opportunities.
Although the cost of college can seem overwhelming at first, there are many programs for Wisconsin residents that make the process of paying for college a little bit easier.
For example, you have the option to take advantage of federal, state, and also private funding sources to help pay for your education.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through all of these options.
Step 1: Apply for Federal Funding
If you’ve never heard of the FAFSA, it’s definitely something you want to become familiar with. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It might seem like a crazy, long form, but it is necessary to fill out for anyone seeking any form of financial aid.
FAFSA definitely has benefits, even if it can take a while to fill out. Just by completing the FAFSA, you will automatically be qualified for some forms of financial aid such as federal grants, federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and some state grants.
If you find yourself having any questions while filling out the FAFSA, check out our step-by-step guide that will walk you through every section.
You can apply for the FAFSA before you know which school you’ll be attending. In fact, the sooner you fill it out, the better. Some grants have application deadlines that you don’t want to miss out on.
Step 2: Apply for State Funding and Scholarships
As we just mentioned, you will automatically be qualified for some state aid just by filling out the FAFSA.
But it’s also smart to do some additional research on your own to see what other state programs might be available.
To begin your search on state funding, you may want to browse the state of Wisconsin’s Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) website. This website offers helpful tools for Wisconsin residents who are planning for college. They even have a introduction to financial aid that will explain some of the basics of financial aid.
Wisconsin grants include:
- Wisconsin Grant provides financial assistance to students enrolled at least half-time at University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical College, and tribal institutions.
- Wisconsin Grant - Private Non-Profit provides financial assistance to students enrolled at least half-time at non-profit, independent colleges, or universities based in Wisconsin.
- Talent Incentive Program Grant is for first-time freshmen who come from a non-traditional or educationally-disadvantaged background. To find out more about this grant, see this page on the Wisconsin HEAB website. (Search by holding down the CTRL key and F, then type in “talent.”)
- Indian Student Assistance Grant is awarded to Wisconsin residents who are at least 25% Native American.
- Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant for minority students, which is defined as a student who is either an African American, American Indian, Hispanic, or Southeast Asian from Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam.
- Hearing & Visually Handicapped Student Grant provides funding for students who have a severe or profound hearing or visual impairment.
Along with grants, Wisconsin also offers a number of scholarships for residents.
Wisconsin scholarships include:
- Academic Excellence Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who have the highest grade point average in each public and private high school throughout the state.
- Technical Excellence Scholarships are awarded to Wisconsin high school seniors who have the highest demonstrated level of proficiency in technical education subjects.
For more information about Wisconsin grants and scholarships, see this page.
Step 3: Apply for Institutional, Local, and National Scholarships
If you’re a high school student, it’s wise to regularly check in with your guidance counselor so you can stay up-to-date with any local scholarships.
Another smart option is to do your own searches online. There are lots of scholarships available, you just have to find them. Many colleges in Wisconsin also offer scholarships, so be sure to check out the websites of these colleges of call their financial aid offices for more information.
When searching for scholarships online, you can search by major, interests, athletics, nationality, or any other characteristic.
You can also search for scholarships by county. For example, Wood County has 14 different scholarships just for Wood County residents. For a complete list of scholarships by county, click here and scroll to the bottom.
Along with the scholarships by county, CollegeScholarships.com has a large variety of other scholarships for Wisconsin residents.
You can also visit Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search for a database that is constantly updated with new programs.
Big Future by College Board is another great scholarship resource. There, you can find scholarships and aid from over 2,200 programs. Plus, Big Future can also help you pick a major and explore different career options.
Step 4: Apply for a Private Loan
If you’ve gone through your options of grants, scholarships, and federal loans, a private loan can help bridge the gap of the remaining difference you’ll need.
Before taking out a Wisconsin private loan, check out our free NitroScore tool. It will help you determine which loans are right for you based on your post-college earning potential.
Simply enter a college and major combination, and the tool will calculate your total cost of education, as well as your projected salary after graduation.
From there, you will receive a score that will tell you how easy or difficult it might be to repay your loans after graduation.
You can play around with the tool and customize it with different school and major combinations or by adding other factors such as scholarships and savings.
After familiarizing yourself with the NitroScore tool, you can find out which of our highly trusted loan partners can give you the best rate.
Thanks to all of the resources available, a college education is an attainable goal for all Wisconsin residents. You can’t start the process too soon, so start planning for your future today.