FAFSA.gov is a popular site that allows students and prospective students, parents, and support staff to look at the types of student aid that are available to apply for as students prepare for college entrance.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, school official, or prospective student, you can use this as your starting point to learn what the options are and begin the process of applying for loans or grants.
As we’ve often said before, it’s a good idea to take the approach of finding free money for college first, before moving to the student loan option. There’s nothing wrong with student loans, but college is expensive, so it’s to your advantage to try to find the least costly investment options.
Best Routes to College Financing
Below are the most common routes to college financial help. You will find all or most of these within the FAFSA.gov application once you get your application started. Many high schools recommend to students to start with the FAFSA application, then decide which options you want to take as you are presented with offers.
- Federal grants
- State aid or grants
- Private financing or bank loans
- PLUS loans
This is a general list of the major types of financial options. You can start at the FAFSA site if you choose to and it seems to streamline the process for you.
However, you to do not have to do it this way. If you have enough of your own information to start the process on your own, you can apply for those programs that you are interested in and see which ones make you an offer.
However you decide to do it, here’s the order you may want to try when you put out your applications. Make sure and allow plenty of time between them to wait for a response before moving onto the next one.
1. Free money or Federal grants
2. College Scholarships
3. State aid or grants
4. Private loans
5. Federal loans
Notice I put Federal loans at the bottom of the list because they usually take longer to pay off and create the most debt of all of the categories above. Go to the FAFSA site and study the types of aid available to learn more before starting your application.