As a parent with four kids (2 graduated, 1 graduating this year, and 1 still in), my answer includes:
- Grants and Scholarships
- Parent funds
- Loans (FASFA, friends, family)
And in this order. Grants, Scholarships, and Parent Funds generally don't need to be paid back and are generally free ... go for them first. Work, work, work ... (either on or off campus). My second daughter was a resident adviser (RA) in the dorms for two years and the school paid her by not charging her tuition/room/board ... it was a HUGE savings for her and she had no loans for those years. My first son had a grant that covered 1/3 of his annual costs for 4 years ... huge savings. My other son worked and did minor loans. Our friends daughter, made getting grants and scholorships her full time job and pulled no loans (impressive).
My biggest advice though is if you do take out loans, then minimize them. They are loans and you have to pay them back ... you may think they are wonderful when you are in college and they give you more than you may need, which goes right into your bank account. But when you graduate and you find out that you have 5, 10, or more years to pay them off and with you 'entertainment money', you will cringe. So, try to work or use grants.
Best of luck!
Michael recommends the following next steps:
- Visit FASFA loan info. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa