A college education will cost money, but it’s an investment worth making. – Patty Stauffer, Online Contributor
Funds to pay for college will usually come from a variety of resources. These include monies from personal savings, family members, and friends; federal and state governments through federal and/or state aid; the college, via scholarships, civic organizations, employers, which includes military service, and private lenders. Other creative ways of gaining resources can be from the sale of unused “stuff” around the house or simply from a change in spending habits (less Starbucks!).
The federal government expects that the student and his/her family will be “first payer” for educational expenses and use funds from personal savings or qualified tuition plans. Students who are less than 24 years old are considered dependents and will file for federal aid using their own and their parent(s)’ income and assets. Independent* students will file for federal aid on their own. This is done by completing the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by accessing www.fafsa.gov.
Once the FAFSA is submitted to the Department of Education via www.fafsa.gov, the results will be returned to the student in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR) and to Northpoint Bible College via an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR). The Financial Aid Director will use the ISIR to obtain the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an index number which she will use to determine the amount and types of federal aid students are eligible to receive.
Federal aid may include a Pell Grant, a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Additionally, the parent of a dependent student may apply for a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) and a graduate student may apply for a GRAD PLUS loan. If the parent is denied a PLUS, the dependent student can receive additional unsubsidized loan funds. Graduate students only qualify for unsubsidized loans.
The Pell Grant is money a student does not need to repay. The lower the EFC, the higher the Pell Grant will be. For example, an EFC of zero (0) on the FAFSA will demonstrate high need and provide an annual Pell Grant of $5,815 for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Pell will be split between the fall and spring semesters. This amount is pro-rated if the student is attending less than full time (i.e. three quarter, half, or less than half time).
The SEOG is awarded on a first come, first served basis to students who demonstrate extreme need (EFC of 0) as reported on the FAFSA. These grants are considered campus-based* funds and are limited; hence, early FAFSA filing is necessary.
Federal Work Study (FWS) provides funds which a student earns through on-campus or community service jobs. Since FWS funds and jobs are limited, not all students who are awarded these campus- based funds will actually obtain a job. Online students will not qualify.
Federal Direct loans are obtained from the U. S. government’s Direct Loan program at low interest rates and consist of subsidized (the government pays the interest for you while you are in school) and unsubsidized (you pay the interest while in school or allow it to accrue/accumulate and the interest is added to the principal amount; upon repayment, you end up paying “interest upon interest”). Private loans are obtained from private lending organizations and usually have a higher rate of interest. Northpoint’s recommends the ELM Select School Lender list providing students with various lender options and links to apply.
State and institutional aid consists of various grants, scholarships, discounts, etc. FAFSA results are generated to the student’s state of residency; however, not all states participate. Eligible students are required to file their FAFSA by their specific states’ deadline. For example, Massachusetts residents must file by May 1st to be considered for a state grant. Northpoint Bible College’s website northpoint.edu/financial-aid/ provides descriptions and application forms for institutional aid. Current discounts are offered to dependents of ministers and missionaries, the spouse of a married student also attending full-time, and to dependent siblings.
Northpoint’s website also directs students to various other websites to search for “outside” scholarships. The scholarship search may require an investment of time, but if a student is diligent, he may be surprised at the funds available. It’s been stated that there are plenty of scholarships out there; one just has to look for them.
To echo one of our staff’s comments from years ago, I am convinced that if a student does his best, God will do the rest; therefore, paying for college is possible!
*independent students – students who are at least one of these persons: born before January l, 1993; married and/or, have children; veterans, working on a Master’s or professional degree
*campus based –a limited allocation of funds provided to the college by the federal government