Tuesday 26 May 2015

Tips for Students from Low Income Families to Fund Their Education

While the importance of education cannot be understated, and its benefits have been well documented, the ever increasing tuition fee is making it more and more difficult for students from low income families to be able to afford college and higher education.

College fee should not be something we should have to worry over; education should be a basic human right that everyone has access to. While this basic right is understood, and there are even ways that students from low income families can study in spite of not being able to afford the ridiculously high fee, they are not always aware of those means and end up either taking loans, if they are lucky, or unlucky if I may say, to get one, which they keep repaying the rest of their lives, or simply letting go of their college dream. They lack the guidance and support.

Most of the time the brighter students do not even apply to the better colleges and universities since they feel that it is of no use if they cannot even pay for it even though if they manage to get financial aid they may have to pay less than what they would have to at a common college. Therefore, a big gap exists in the educational achievement between students from low income families and those belonging to rich families.

There may be times when students are unable to qualify for loans and grants even though they may really be needy. Colleges should look after such students. One such example of a college trying to help out needy students is Stanford University that has announced a waiving of tuition for all students whose parents have a less than $125,000 annual income, and a waiving of tuition as well as room and board fee for those with a less than $65,000 annual income.
This is a great help to those who are unable to attend college due to money issues in spite of being qualified to. Although Stanford has waived the tuition fee for lower income students, it does require them to make some sort of an annual contribution in the form of $5,000 for college expenses. This, in my opinion, is a good initiative as it would teach the students that not everything is free and if they want something they have to make some kind of an effort toward it. It reminds them that independence is expensive. Similarly, Harvard and Princeton also have fee waiver policy for students whose parents have an annual income of below a certain amount.

Financial aid is available for certain students meeting the required qualification. There are three basic ways that financial aid is provided: in the form of loans and gift aid in the form of scholarships and grants.

“Free Money” options

Gift aid is given in the form of scholarships and grants. Some colleges provide merit based financial aid in the form of scholarships, that is, it depends on how well you have been performing at the various areas of academics or athletics. Or maybe because you belong to a particular background, such as having a military family or parents working at a particular company.

Grants are need-based gift money. Those belonging to a low income family can apply for grants after which they are assessed to make sure they qualify. For instance, as discussed above, Stanford University provides grants for students whose parents have an annual income less than $125,000. This is an example of a grant offered from the university itself. Mostly grants come from government agencies so no credit check is required when you apply. While bad credit and low income will possibly stand in your way when applying for loans, such is not the case with publicly funded government grants which are even granted to those with no credit.

One such option is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through which you are provided with the most access to financial aid for college tuition. There are four common grants that you can apply for.

Pell Grant: this is for the undergraduate students still enrolled in their bachelor’s degree.

TEACH Grants: TEACH stands for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. This type of grant applies to students pursuing a teaching career and intending to teach at a low income school. In case the student does not end up teaching, he/she will be required to pay back the grant as it will then be considered a loan.

Iran & Afghanistan Service Grants: this applies for students whose parents or guardians died performing military duties after September 11, 2001.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): this is an option for undergraduate students having extraordinary financial needs.

To start you simply need to submit a FAFSA and from there your college will work on the amount you can receive as a grant.


The Federal Work-Study Program is for financially needy students. Through the program students are able to find work and can earn money to be able to afford their college expenses. While this money may not be available for you right at the beginning for your tuition, it will definitely help you out later on during the semester when other college expenses would probably keep increasing and burning a hole in your pocket.

Federal/Institutional Aid

Federal student loans include Perkins, Stafford and PLUS. A good thing about federal student loans is that they offer a very low interest rate. Besides, in case borrowers have trouble with repayments, they are given certain options to help reduce or suspend their payments.

Do not simply give up on your college dream just because of the tuition fee. Apply everywhere you want to and search for various scholarships and grants, through the government, respective college, and otherwise as well. There are several options out there and all you need to do is look. Chances are that they are also just looking for students whose education they would like to fund.

Author Bio: Miss Batool Ali is a passionate blogger who loves to write on the topics related to Money Management and Loan Forgiveness.


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