The Money Maze
College Costs
Available Aid
The Needs Analysis Formula
Contribution Worksheet
Timelines and Aid Offers
Additional Articles

Available Aid

Where to find the money to pay for college?

PELL GRANTS are for undergraduates who have demonstrated financial need. The maximum award has been about $2,400, however, this can change. The Department of Education guarantees that schools will receive enough money to pay the Pell Grants awarded to students. Pell Grants are 'portable' which means that the grant follows the student should they to transfer. Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY GRANTS (SEOG's) are offered to undergraduates who have demonstrated financial need. Grants may range from $200 - $4,000 per year. Schools receive a set amount of money for SEOG's annually, which they then disburse. Applying on time increases the chance that money will be available. Apply by completing the FAFSA.

WASHINGTON STATE NEED GRANTS: This program provides aid to needy or disadvantaged full-time students and their families. Washington State residents who attend a participating institution as full-time students are automatically considered for this grant when they apply for financial aid. Oregon, Idaho and Alaska have similar state need grant programs. Apply by completing the FAFSA.

INSTITUTIONAL GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS: Almost all colleges and universities give their own money in the form of institutional grants. Institutional grants and scholarships are the single largest source of Gift Aid. Many donors establish scholarship funds through contributing to public and private universities. At many public colleges and universities, students are automatically considered by the office of financial aid for scholarships by completing the FAFSA application. Sometimes students are required to complete additional aid and scholarship forms. Colleges also offer scholarships which are not available solely through the office of financial aid. Alumni organizations, athletic programs, specific academic departments and other campus organizations may offer scholarships. Students need to search out these awards and usually that work pays off: many of these awards have low application rates, increasing the possibility of receiving funds. Students must request these lists of institutional grants and scholarship from prospective colleges. They are not usually sent with admission materials.

THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP offers parents of dependent students (under the age of 24), or independent students, a 100% tax credit on the first $1,000 of tuition and required fees and a 50% tax credit on the second $1,000. This means that parent or student will be able to take up to a $1,500 tax credit per year, on tuition paid after December 31, 1997. The credit can be claimed in the first two years of college or vocational school for students who are enrolled at least half-time. The credit is phased out for families with incomes beyond $80,000 per year, or individuals with incomes above $40,000. The credit is not available if tuition is covered by grants, scholarships or other tax-free college aid.

THE LIFETIME LEARNING TAX CREDIT tax credit is targeted to college juniors, seniors and adults returning to college. It offers a 20% tax credit for the first $5,000 of tuition and fees paid each year, beginning after July 1, 1998. After 2002, the credit will be increased to cover the first $10,000 paid. This credit is also phased out at the same income levels as the HOPE Scholarship. The credit is also not available if tuition is covered by grants, scholarships or other tax-free college aid.

IRA FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR COLLEGE: Beginning January 1, 1998, parents and grandparents may withdraw Individual Retirement Account funds, without penalty (treated as regular income), to use for the college expenses of the taxpayer, a spouse, child or grandchild. For children under the age of 18, $500 per year may be deposited in an 'Education IRA' in the child's name. Earnings on the Education IRA are tax free and no taxes will be due upon withdrawal if used for college tuition and fees, until the child reaches 30 years of age. This benefit is phased out for families with incomes above $150,000 and individuals above $95,000.

PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS: Scholarships large and small are awarded in a number of ways. For example, merit scholarships are awarded for: outstanding academic, civic, athletic or artistic achievement. Most private scholarships are awarded based on student merit, but some are awarded after careful consideration of both the student's need and merit. On average, students applying for 10 scholarships have a reasonable chance of receiving one. The best information on private scholarships is available through high school counseling offices, public libraries and college financial aid offices. For students from the Pacific Northwest, a comprehensive list if private scholarships can be found in the Pacific Northwest Scholarship Guide, published by the nonprofit College Planning Network (CPN). The book can be found at schools or libraries and a new free Internet version is available on CPN's Web site at:, where the book can also be ordered. No one should ever to pay for use of a computerized scholarship search as free services are easy to access at schools on via the Internet.

WORK STUDY: Virtually every college or university has some system of work study. Though some will designate a job on-campus, most allow the student to choose an on-campus or possibly off-campus employer. The responsibility for finding a work study job rests in the student's hands. Most colleges will regulate the number of hours to be worked, so too much time is not taken from studying. They will also regulate the pay rate and its increases. The money earned usually goes directly to the student and is intended to cover, part or all of her/his 'personal expenses.' Work study programs benefit colleges in several ways: by providing employment for the students they wish to accept and by providing part-time employees for the college. Often, state funded work study programs allow for either half-time or full-time students to accept job placements off-campus, as long as the job is related to their career objectives.

EDUCATIONAL LOANS: The Perkins, Stafford and Parent loan programs offer federal guarantees on student loans. The Perkins Loan is a low-interest loan (about 5%) available to low income families. The Subsidized Stafford Loan has a higher interest rate (about 8%) but is available to middle and upper-middle income families. By completing the FAFSA form, families apply for both Perkins and Subsidized Stafford loans. The Un-subsidized Stafford loan is not need-based. Students may borrow limited amounts each year. Parents may borrow through the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) loan. Amounts borrowed annually are limited to the cost of education and need is not considered. Many colleges offer internal loans to students, although these generally are intended for emergency circumstances. Some colleges have an internal loan program in which parents can borrow money from the college and then begin repayment while the student is still in school. Be sure to ask the financial aid officer about all available loan programs. All other sources of aid should be exhausted before loans are considered.