I’ve got good news and bad news about money. The good news: Just like time, you have full control over how you spend your money. You can choose to spend it on the things that matter to you, the things that are important to your family’s survival, or you can choose to waste it. Unlike time, money is infinite – there’s no limit to how much you can make. The bad news: Unlike time, no one is allotted a certain amount at the beginning of each day. You have to use your time to earn money. There are several ways to do this.
So what other alternatives do you have to pay for college?
There are several types of financial aid available from both the state and federal governments. Your first step to figure out if you’re eligible is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
The US Department of Education takes the information you give them via the FAFSA and, after applying some kind of mathematical formula, sends out a Student Aid Report (SAR) to the college you listed. On that SAR is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). That number is the dollar amount that they’ve determined you and your family should be able to afford to contribute to your college education.
Most government Financial Aid is “need-based.” Each college or university calculates a Cost of Attendance (COA), which is how much it costs to attend the college as a full-time student. The COA includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room & board, transportation, and personal expenses. Essentially, COA minus EFC equals Need. Once our Financial Aid Office receives your SAR, they use our COA and your EFC to put together a Financial Aid Award Package which may include any of the following:
- California Board of Governors Waiver (BOGW) (waives course fees)
- Pell Grant (money from the Federal government that you don’t have to pay back)
- CalGrant (money from the State government that you don’t have to pay back)
- Work-Study (money you earn from working a grant-funded job, usually on campus)
- Student Loans (money you borrow and have to pay back after graduation).
If your income has changed drastically since last year (because you got laid off or divorced, etc.), go to the Financial Aid office and talk to one of the staff. They may be able to adjust your award to reflect your current need.