Paying for College

How much does college cost?

Paying for college (2-year or 4-year) is an investment. College graduates typically earn around a million dollars more in income over their lifetimes than individuals with only a high school diploma.  Further, college graduates have more stable employment, are less likely to be unemployed, and are more likely to find employment.

To determine the full cost of your college education you will want to gather as much information as possible about the colleges you would like to attend. You can  find information about the various costs of attending a college on that college’s website or on the U.S. Department of Education’s website: If you have any questions be sure to contact the financial aid office at the college you are interested in attending.

11th12th JPEGNet Price- Net price is the real price that a student pays to go to a college (published price of the college minus the gift aid that the student receives). All Alabama colleges offer a tool on their websites called a net price calculator. This online tool gives you an estimate of the actual price you would pay to go to a certain college, based on information you enter about your finances. So think about net price, not published price.

college pays off.jpg

Where will the money come from?

College will be an investment of your time, talent, and money. If you manage that investment well, college will pay for itself in the long run: with a college degree, you will earn about $1 million more over your lifetime than you would with just a high school degree. 

How will I get the money to continue my education?

With financial aid, many students who can’t afford the full cost of college are able to earn degrees. Most fulltime college students receive some kind of financial aid.

What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money that the government and other organizations give you or lend you so that you can pay for college. Remember, the money won’t just fall in your lap; you have to apply to qualify.

Where does financial aid come from?
Federal government (largest source)
Alabama state government
Colleges and universities
Companies, clubs, and religious organizations
Banks and lending companies

What are the types of financial aid?

There are four main types of financial aid. 

1. Grants. Grants are gift aid because you don’t have to pay them back. Grant money comes from federal and state governments and from colleges. Most grants are needbased: your family’s financial circumstances determine how much aid you receiveA Pell Grant is the federal government’s needbased aid program, and it is worth up to $5,845 during the 201617 school year. Some grants are meritbased: your academic record determines how much money you earn.

2. Scholarships are also gift aid and do not have to paid back. Scholarships can come from governments, colleges, or private organizations. There are hundreds of scholarships and they can be awarded for almost anything: students earn scholarships for academic or athletic ability, for interest in volunteer work or a certain subject in school, or for membership in an ethnic or religious group.You may be eligible for a scholarship if you had a parent who served in the military, or if your parent’s employer offers scholarships to children of employees.
3. WorkStudy Programs. You can get a paid parttime job through the federal workstudy program to help you cover part of the cost.
4. Loans. A loan is money borrowed from the government, a bank or a lending company. Loans must be paid back with an extra charge that accrues (grows over time) called interest. The federal government offers special loans to students paying for college: these loans are lowinterest, and don’t have to be paid back until you earn your degree. Other lenders charge more interest, and you have to start paying them back earlier.

How to Apply for Financial Aid:

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid from the federal government, state governments and many colleges.

You can also apply for financial aid directly from the colleges you’re applying to and from private organizations. You will want to apply as soon as possible after January 1 of the year your student plans to attend college.


Learn more about the 4 main types of financial aid:

ScholarshipsGrantsLoans, Work-Study



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