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Why is it so difficult for non-traditional students to get financial aid?

As a student who is not right out of high school, nor has the ability to have parental assistance, I have found it almost impossible to find scholarships and/or grants for someone such as myself that is classified as a non-traditional student. Not to mention, it's impossible to obtain student loans if you have poor credit and have no available co-signer. It makes paying for college very difficult. #financialaid #nontraditionalstudent #loans #college-scholarships

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Meghan’s Answer

Typically, I recommend everyone to fill out the FAFSA - www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is the first and easiest option for federal grants and federal loans. Federal loans use your past income for eligibility- for example 2016 taxes are used for the upcoming 18/19 aid year. Credit scores are not a factor in this decision- this is only a factor in applications for private loans. Private loans will almost always use your credit score and depending on your situation, you may need a co-signer to get a private loan.


Depending on your age, you may or may not need to input your parents information on the FAFSA. The Department of Education has the age of 24 as the default for independence. What this means: if you are under 24, put your parents on the FAFSA unless mitigating circumstances exist. Ages 24 and older, use your own information. You do not have to use your parents information.


Generally speaking, the federal Pell grant uses your income and household size as the two biggest variables to see if you are eligible to receive it. The further you are away from the poverty line suited to you (IE single, family, etc), the less Pell Grant you are eligible. In most cases, everyone is eligible for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Keep in mind that when you fill out the FAFSA, you are seeing what Aid you are eligible for from the Pell grant and the federal loans. There is a lot of information about the FAFSA- for more info, you can visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.


Additionally, depending on the institution that you have applied for, they could have institutional aid. This applies for most four year private schools so it may be worth making an appointment to see your schools financial aid advisor to talk about that schools additional loans and scholarships. Scholarship applications at colleges and universities are usually due in the March- May time frame before the Fall semester begins. So the earlier the better.


Lastly, scholarships are a big thing. One of my favorite websites is www.fastweb.com. After filling out general information about yourself and your school, you will be linked to scholarship applications that fit your criteria. This website is definitely worth taking a look at.

Meghan recommends the following next steps:

Do the FAFSA! Www.fafsa.ed.gov
Check institutional aid and scholarships
Check out www.fastweb.com
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LaTecia’s Answer

Answer to these questions are great. You may also look at private or non profit organizations.
Target: http://www.collegescholarships.org/scholarships/companies/target.htm
iRise Wellness: https://www.irisewellness.com/scholarship
Dollar for scholars: https://public.dollarsforscholars.org/index.php?action=userLogin
Ronald McDonald: https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/community/hacer.html
McNair: https://mcnairscholars.com/funding/


Also at your locate career center at your selected college as a list of scholarships as well.
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H’s Answer

I 100% agree with Meghan regarding applying for FAFSA every single time.

I was also a nontraditional student, I returned to school obtain my bachelors degree when I was 29 years old. (I was in community college preparing to transfer to university when I was 26-29 years old) I got a lot of help with loans through FAFSA, but also from the grants provided by the school that was provided on a need-basis. I talked to the university's financial aid people often to appeal the grants I was given to increase the amount by expressing that I wouldn't be able to afford tuition with the amount I was given.
Also, if your university has a scholarship program that connects students to private donors, that is very helpful. You should ask your financial aid department about how to learn about the scholarships available to its students. I got help most semesters this way. They are easy to apply for and the chances of getting scholarships is much higher than the ones offered on a larger scale. You're generally just in an applicant pool with students from your own school, so you're likely to receive aid.

When I was in school, my income was still very low, so my financial aid (loans and grants) offered to me was higher than most students. If you made higher income, your calculated EFC by FAFSA (expected family contribution) will be high, so they will offer you less aid.

H recommends the following next steps:

Talk to your financial aid office about available private donor scholarships
challenge the aid you are offered to financial aid office
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