How to Help Students Pay for College

by Miranda Palter | August 25, 2016
How to Help Students Pay for College

Public and private college tuition is continuously increasing, making it harder for students to overcome the huge hurdle of financing higher education. Your institution can make it easier for students to access the information they need to make smart financial decisions. Here’s how:

How to Help Students Pay for College

When a student has a scholarship or grant:

According to Sallie Mae, over one-third of college costs are supplemented by scholarships and grants. Need- and merit-based scholarships and grants are often provided directly by higher education institutions, though there are also many independent organizations and websites that help students identify and apply for scholarship opportunities.

Your institution should:

Direct students to institutional scholarship and grant opportunities and provide guidance for scholarship applications. Students often aren’t aware of how to access scholarships through their college or university. Pointing them in the right direction ensures that students are more likely to attend and persist through college. It also gives institutions a wider pool of applicants to choose from for merit-based opportunities.

When a student borrows money or takes out loans:

Many students finance their higher education through loans and borrowed money. Federal Stafford loans have low interest rates, making them a popular option. Students can access federal loans by filing and renewing the FAFSA each year. Private loans are another option, but interest and other terms vary greatly.

Your institution should:

Assist students in understanding their options and maintaining federal loan eligibility. As soon as a student forgets to refile their FAFSA, he or she is unable to access low-interest federal loan money – a typical first step to dropping out. That’s why texting students with reminders about FAFSA completion has been shown to increase persistence by 20%.

When a student's family is paying for college:

A majority of college students receive some kind of financial assistance from parents or family. Though they may be older, parents may not be any wiser about the process of financing college. That’s why it’s so important to engage the parents and families of college-bound students.

Learn how you can help your students pay for college financingYour institution should:

Include parents and families in communications about financial aid information and opportunities. Sharing this information with families is not only a nice thing to do, it can also be the difference between a student earning a degree or not.

Students and families go to great lengths to make college affordable and achievable, yet funding higher education is still the largest barrier to entry. Helping students access the financial information they need leads to better outcomes across the board for students, institutions, and communities.

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