Financial Aid for Middle-Class College Students

Parents and students faced with the problem of financing a college education often are not aware of the many sources of financial aid available. Nearly everyone, no matter what the family income, can get some aid. We wrote a post on how you can study in UK without IELTS.
College financial-aid officers. They are the best single source of information. Talk with them when visiting a college. Most colleges make some scholarships and loan funds available to students. The colleges also administer funds that come from federal programs.
The Scholarship Search Company. This firm has the largest scholarship information data bank in the country. The application form requests detailed information about the student, which is then matched against the specifications of more than 250,000 scholarship ships. There are scholarships reserved for an amazing variety of individuals, ranging from golf caddies and newspaper carriers to members of religious sects and ethnic groups. Many of these scholarships go unclaimed because eligible students are not aware of them.
State scholarship programs. Every state makes some financial aid available to college students. A high school counselor can tell you what agency administers the program in your state. If not, write to your state’s education department.

Federal government programs

Basic educational opportunity grants. They were originally designed to help low-income families. But, in 1978, they were made available to middle-income families as well. The amount of the grant is based on financial need as determined by a government formula.
Guaranteed Student Loan Program. It is designed specifically for middle-income families. No financial need is required. The student secures the loan from a bank or savings and loan association. (Some, but not all, banks participate in the program.) Repayment is guaranteed by the government if the student defaults. The loan is interest-free while the student remains in school. Dependent undergraduate students can borrow $2,500 a year up to a maximum of $12,500. Independent undergraduates can borrow $3,000 a year up to a maximum of $15,000. The interest rate is 9%, payable six months after the student leaves school. Interest rate clause: If Treasury bill yields drop below 9% for the previous 12 months, the interest rate for subsequent borrowers drops to 8% and remains at that level.
National direct student loans. They are made for students who demonstrate financial need as determined by the college financial aid officer. The loans are interest-free as long as the student remains enrolled. Repayment at 4% interest begins nine months after a student leaves school. Students have been able to borrow up to $6,000 for juniors and seniors, and $3,000 for freshmen and sophomores.
Part-time employment. Most colleges offer financial-aid packages, consisting of scholarship aid, loans, and part-time work. The Federal College Work-Study Program funds most of the part-time student jobs on campuses. In addition, individuals and businesses often seek part-time help through college. The financial-aid officer can tell about the scope of the college’s program.
ROTC Scholarships. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force maintain Reserve Officers Training Corps programs on several hundred campuses across the U.S. They also offer several thousand four-, three-, and two-year scholarships on a competitive basis to students in ROTC programs. In return, the students agree to serve a stipulated number of years on active duty.
Corporations and unions. These often provide scholarships for the children of employees or members of a union. Here are some of the outstanding non-Ivy League Colleges.
The American Legion. The Legion publishes a scholarship handbook called Need a Lift to Educational Opportunities, Careers, Loans, Scholarships? It lists a wide variety of scholarship programs. It also has fact sheets on financing possibilities under the Vietnam GI Bill, Junior GI Bill, and Title II of the Social Security Act. For more information: Write to the American Legion, Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 42606.

Source of Information

Kenneth Kohl, former head, Federal Guaranteed Student Loan Program, and co-author with Irene Kohl, Financing College Education, Harper & Row, New York.
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