State Financial AidGraduates of Georgia high schools may be eligible for state aid through the HOPE Program, which offers both scholarships and grants.
The Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Program is funded by the Georgia Lottery and provides postsecondary financing for qualifying students through both the HOPE Scholarship and the HOPE Grant programs. To be eligible for HOPE funding (scholarship or grant), students must submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a HOPE Scholarship and Grant Application. (Note: The HOPE application is accepted only for HOPE funding and only in Georgia. If you expect to need federal financial aid, will apply for a loan of any kind, or are applying to schools outside of Georgia, you should submit the FAFSA instead.) Both applications are available online and can be accessed through www.GAcollege411.org. Students’ transcripts must include their social security number to be eligible for HOPE funding. Application confirms eligibility for HOPE and is required to receive funding. Watch for updated HOPE information for the 2011-12 school year.
Programs administered by the federal government comprise the nation’s largest source of student aid, including three types of federal financial aid:
Federal Financial Aid
Federal Grants: There are several types of federal student aid grants: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant. These federal grants are awarded to students with financial need. A student must qualify for a Pell Grant in order to receive any of the other three grants. The amount of offered grants is based on financial need, enrollment status, and full or partial academic year. Two other grants do not require Pell Grant-eligibility. The TEACH Grant requires an agreement to teach in a high needs area after graduation. And surviving children of a U.S. Service member who died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan also may be eligible for a federal grant.
Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program: FWS provides jobs for students with financial need. In on-campus jobs, students work for the school. Off-campus jobs most often are for non-profits or a public agency, emphasizing community service. A total FWS award is dependent on when you apply, your level of need, and your school’s funding level. Generally, students are paid by the hour, at least once a month, and directly to the student. The amount you earn cannot exceed your total FWS award.
Federal Loans: Student (and parent) loans are borrowed money and must be repaid. The Perkins Loan is a federally guaranteed loan through your school. The U.S. Department of Education is the lender for the Direct Loan Program, which includes Stafford and PLUS loans. Before July 2010, private lenders, with guarantees from the federal government, were the lenders for these loans. Types of loans include Federal Perkins Loans, Direct Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), and Direct PLUS Loans for Parents. (Note: Interest on a subsidized Stafford Loan is paid by the government while a student is in school. Interest accrues and is paid by the borrower with an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.) Students who complete the FAFSA will be considered for both the Perkins and Stafford loan programs. To accept the loan, the student must sign a legally binding promissory note. Parents of dependent students can borrow from the PLUS Loan program. Eligibility, award amounts, interest rates, and the length of repayment vary for these loans. Students are urged to learn more about their options and their rights and responsibilities as borrowers before taking out any loan.
Find out more about these programs from Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, by calling 1-800-433-3243 or go to www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.(A number of useful publications are available on the site, along with FAFSA4caster, an online tool to estimate your eligibility for federal student aid.)
Some colleges and universities offer additional school-funded financial aid to qualifying students, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, and work-study. While many institutions automatically consider a student for school-based aid— using FAFSA and/or CSS Financial Aid PROFILE to determine eligibility— some schools require additional applications, especially for school-funded scholarships with specific criteria and qualifications. Be aware of the requirements and deadlines of the schools in which you are interested.
School-Based Financial Aid
In addition to financial aid available from state and federal sources and school-based aid, there are some additional options, including scholarships, private loans, and programs that forgive or repay loans based on service or work in specified areas. Check out the options in this section and talk to your counselor or advisor.
Other Funding Options
Scholarships from Other Sources: Hundreds of scholarships are available from clubs, community organizations, businesses and corporations, civic groups, foundations, and individuals. However, beware of scholarship scams and services that offer to search for scholarships for a fee or guarantee that you’ll receive a scholarship. This information is available free of charge from many reputable sources. Your school maintains a list of scholarships that you may want to pursue. In addition, a number of online services compile scholarship opportunities that you can tap into at no cost. Here are a few potential scholarship resources to keep in mind… Do you work? Your employer may have a scholarship program for student employees. Does your parent or someone in your family belong to an organization or work for a company that offers scholarships for family members? Are you involved with a club or organization, in or out of school, that offers scholarships? Do you have a talent or ability that you could turn into scholarship money? The key to earning scholarships is to look for the opportunities that best meet your strengths and abilities, complete applications to specifications, and meet deadlines.
Credit-Based Loans from Private Lenders: Borrowers must be considered credit-worthy in order to be eligible for a credit-based loan program. These loans are not guaranteed by the federal government. As with any loan, make sure you understand terms and conditions of the loan.
Service-Cancelable Loans: Service-cancelable loans can be repaid through service in specific fields identified as critical needs by the agency offering the loan. If a student accepts a service-cancelable loan and does not go into or stay in the field, or otherwise meet the commitments of the loan, he or she is responsible for repaying the loan and interest. Learn more about options in Georgia.
Federal Loan Forgiveness/Deferment/Repayment Options: The federal government will forgive (cancel) all or part of a federal educational loan under certain circumstances. Loan-forgiveness programs are available for certain types of volunteer work (AmeriCorps, VISTA, Peace Corps), military service, teaching or practicing medicine in certain types of communities or with certain specialities, some law enforcement work, or meeting other criteria specified by the forgiveness program. The Federal Student Loan Repayment Program allows federal agencies to repay federal loans on behalf of employees to help in recruitment and retention efforts. Deferment or postponement of federal loan repayment may be available for qualified borrowers who work in certain fields, including teaching. Learn more about all of these options on the Federal Student Aid web site.