As the price tag to attend college increases, so does a family’s financial concern over the ability to pay for a college education. According to College Board, a mission-driven not-for-profit organization, the average charges for tuition, fees, room and board at a private nonprofit four-year college reached $45,370 in 2016-17, an increase from a cost of $43,870 only one year before in 2015-16.
Options are available to help pay for a quality education, and for many, it starts with financial aid. Here’s a snapshot to help guide your family on how to finance higher education at a private institution like Grand Canyon University.
- The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov. Home Room, the official blog of the U.S. Department of education, serves as an in-depth FAFSA resource and lists “7 Things You Need Before You Fill Out the FASFA,” such as an FSA ID, 2015 tax records, records of untaxed income, records of all assets and a list of interested schools to attend. Make sure to know FAFSA deadlines by checking with your state or school. Many states that offer first-come, first-served financial aid may have a deadline of as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
- Home Room also offers “The Parent’s Guide to Completing the FAFSA from Start to Finish,” which outlines steps and tips for what to do before, during and after completing the FAFSA. This checklist covers all areas of question, from transferring federal tax return information into FAFSA and understanding your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to receiving aid offers from schools and comparing types of aid. You may also want to review “FAFSA Tips & Common Mistakes to Avoid” from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrations to prevent errors that can delay the application and restrict the amount of aid eligible to receive.
- It’s important to acknowledge changes put in place for the 2017-18 FAFSA. First, FAFSA is now available for filing as early as Oct. 1 (as opposed to Jan. 1). Second, students now report earlier income information. For example, for the 2017-18 FAFSA, families must report their 2015 income information, instead of 2016 income information. These “FAFSA Changes for 2017-18” are available to review online, along with frequently asked questions at: studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes
- Federal student aid includes grants (do not have to be repaid), loans (borrowed money that must be repaid with interest) and work-study (program providing part-time employment for students to earn money to help pay for school). The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion annually in grants, work-study funds and low-interest loans to over 15 million students. Financial aid can come from the U.S. federal government, state where you reside, the college attended or nonprofit/private organizations. For more information on federal financial aid, visit “types of aid” online at studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types. You will also be able to review information about grants and scholarships, work-study jobs, tax benefits, avoiding scams and loans.
- The two federal student loan programs from the U.S. Department of Education include (1) the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, in which the U.S. Department of Education is the lender, and (2) the school-based Federal Perkins Loan Program, in which the school is the lender to students with exceptional financial need.
- Direct Subsidized Loans are provided for eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are provided for eligible undergraduate, graduate and professional students who aren’t required to demonstrate financial need.
- Direct PLUS Loans are provided for graduate or professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students to pay for education costs not covered by other aid.
- Direct Consolidation Loans combine all eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer.
- Federal student loans differ from private student loans and offer an array of benefits such as:
- Repayment starts after graduation
- Fixed or lower interest rates
- Qualification for a subsidized loan in which the government pays interest
- Typically, no credit check or cosigner
- Interest may be tax-deductible
- No prepayment penalty fee and more
In response to rising tuition costs and student debt, Grand Canyon University offers generous scholarships and grants, along with cost-effective options, that make a quality private Christian education affordable for many.
- GCU has frozen ground tuition for each academic year since 2009.
- On average, a student qualifies for approximately $8,600 in scholarships and grants for the academic year, which reduces tuition by about half.
- Room and board rates start at just $3,125 per semester.
- Fast-track options like summer session and dual enrollment also help students graduate early, which helps them enter their career sooner, earn an income to start paying back student loans and avoid another year of funding college.
- Our admissions counselors meet with students to provide a transparent overview of what it costs for them to attend GCU, including scholarship/grant opportunities and ways to financially maximize their time here specific to their needs and financial situation without over-borrowing.
Ready to learn more about your educational opportunities at GCU? Visit our website or contact us today using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.