With the average cost of college at about $22,000 a year it is no wonder that the number of students seeking financial aid is going through the roof. As those numbers continue to rise the average person will not be able to afford college unless he receives financial aid.

Perhaps this is why students are receiving about $9,100 on average each year to help defray the cost of college. Without it there would be a lot of empty campuses. Can’t we just take that $22,000, subtract the $9,100 and call it even?

In the financial aid world things are never quite that easy. But when you look at the fact that fully eighty percent of undergraduates receive some type of financial aid it becomes readily apparent that distributing financial aid is much more about who does not get it than who does.

The United States Department of Education provides students with $100 billion a year in financial aid. About fourteen billion of that is awarded through Pell Grants to about twenty seven percent of undergraduate students. The average award is $2,600.

One of the somewhat controversial issues with Pell Grants is that recipients are disproportionately at risk for dropping out of school. This would be a normal by-product of distributing money based on financial need, ethnicity or gender as opposed to strictly on merit.

If you are awarding money based solely on how much someone needs it then you will have a disproportionate amount of people who have formed habits not conducive to keeping that money and staying the course.
This is similar to what happened in the recent crash of the American housing market. A government decided it would pick winners and losers based on race and those groups who were underrepresented in the housing market. The result was a world economy that collapsed when America collapsed.

This brings us to the non-traditional student. Non-traditional students are increasingly enrolling in college later than those traditional students straight out of high school. They may have taken time to work and raise money for college, had a baby, or any of a wide variety of other reasons.

Whatever the reason, for the purposes of financial aid, these students are considered independent from their parents. This makes it much tougher for them to qualify for many types of financial aid reserved for those students coming straight from high school. On the other hand, their independent filing status often gives them certain advantages when applying for federal aid.

There are other ways to supplement your income besides financial aid. These can include viable options like a part-time job, paid internship or perhaps military service that helps pay for college.

Almost half of all financial aid is coming to students through the federal government. Another sixteen percent comes from state-funded grants. The remainder of financial aid is received through work-study jobs and special loan programs for parents. All in all it’s a pretty good deal for most students.

One of the biggest issues with Hispanic scholarships is that those receiving them are too often unprepared to do college level work when they arrive on campus.

Business scholarships are one of the best educational investments since business majors get a return on that investment faster than other majors.

The Bill Gates Scholarship, flawed as it may be, throws billions of dollars into scholarship coffers and, if nothing else, should buy Mr. Gates a speed train ticket to heaven.

All women—even those not looking for scholarships for single mothers—should fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

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