High school places itself as the transitional passageway from adolescence into adulthood, and paved along the way are the worries of life after high school. For many students this picture of the future will include going to college. Since the 1980’s the cost of college has risen above inflation according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Financial aid can include everything from scholarships to grant money,” says Ms. Lieb the Post Grad Coordinator. The reaches of financial aid are broad and can be tricky to navigate but building on that understanding freshman to senior year is key to getting the best aid offered. “When I talk about paying for college I describe that there are three pots of gold, the first being where students can apply for scholarships,” says Dr. Maureen Stewart, counselor. Scholarships and their applications allow for a range of unique hobbies to life experience. “Apply for individual scholarships that are available on every student’s Naviance account,” says Stewart when referring to the best place to start looking. Next under the rainbow of financial aid is the free application for federal student aid or FAFSA. This application based on prior year’s taxes offers a variety of aid options to students, from grants offered by the federal government that don’t have to be paid back to loans on various payment plans. October 1 is a good starting date for filling out the application, and the taxes for the prior\ year will be necessary. The process can be tedious but nonetheless recommended. “If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, financial aid won’t talk to you. It opens the door to that conversation. So even if you have all the money in the world something can happen where you need to talk to financial aid. And if you haven›t filled out the FAFSA, you don’t get that option,” says Lieb. Yet, financial aid is more than scholarships and the FAFSA. Dr. Stewart remarks on work studies which are opportunities to work on campus, something she herself was apart of. Additionally, tax credits offer deductibles to families who have students in school. The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit are two options for families. AOTC having a deductible potential of $10,000 over the course of four years. Paying for college is a process one students should not undertake alone. Asking questions or even attending Heritage’s Financial Aid night October 7 at 6p.m. are steps to take on the pathway from high school to college.
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