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Understanding Financial Aid for College

financial-aid-tips

Wed, 06/17/2020 - 1:15pm

Do you think college costs too much for you or your family to afford? Millions of students find grants, loans, and other forms of financial aid to finance higher education. According to the government, about 85 percent of all students qualify for some kind of financial assistance to help pay for their higher education. You should never assume that a high-quality university education is out of reach because of finances. That's true across the country, and it's especially true at University of the Cumberlands. 

The Basics of Getting College Financial Aid

Qualified students can find plenty of sources of financial aid. Take a look at the basic steps below to ensure success. 

Pay Attention to Financial Aid Deadlines

You should apply to the colleges you hope to attend and financial aid as early in the previous school year as possible. In most cases, you need to have both your financial aid forms and your college acceptance completed to learn exactly how much aid that you will qualify for.
 
If you must apply later, you may still get consideration, but some programs may run low on funds, so you won't qualify for as much as you would have if you had applied early. When it comes to financial aid, it often pays to be among the first in line. 

Start Applying for College Financial Aid With the FAFSA

You'll usually see the Free Application for Student Aid referred to as FAFSA. Most undergraduate students will also need their parents to supply some financial information for this form. Still, you can complete the process online, and it should not take too long to do. You need to fill out a FAFSA to apply for federal grants, scholarships, and work study.
 
Besides that, many states and public and private colleges also use the FAFSA to help determine eligibility for their own programs. As you fill out the forms, you will see that you have a chance to send the FAFSA to various schools. Again, you will enjoy the most success if you pay attention to both FAFSA and other program deadlines. You can begin filling it out as early as October of the previous year. While the federal program has fairly generous deadlines, some other programs may close applications by December or January.
 
Tip: Make sure you visit the official FAFSA website at FAFSA.ED.GOV. When you search for the application online, you may see a lot of ads that look like they're taking you to the official website but really aren't. 

University of the Cumberlands Financial Aid Programs

The University of the Cumberlands strives to make college affordable for every qualified student. Apply both to college and to FAFSA to begin the process of qualifying for additional financial assistance from UC. These are specific financial assistance programs that you may qualify for. 

Academic and Merit-Based Scholarships

Cumberlands offers both academic and special merit-based scholarship programs. Submit applications by December 1 of the previous year for priority consideration. Applications submitted later may still be accepted on a case-by-case basis. After completing your FAFSA and getting accepted to the university, you will be automatically considered.
 
While you can learn more about University of the Cumberlands scholarship programs on the scholarship page, here’s a brief summary:

  • For academic scholarships, amounts and eligibility depend upon prior academic performance. New freshmen may qualify for a Presidential scholarship. The university also offers transfer scholarships.
  • The University of the Cumberlands offers merit-based scholarships for ROTC, athletics, and Christian leadership, community service, Eastern Kentucky locals, and leadership. 

Student Loans

Some students and families will borrow money in order to invest in education. At University of the Cumberlands, there are three types of loans typically available:

  • Federal Direct Student Loans: The government offers both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans to qualified students.
  • Federal Direct Plus Loans for Students: With these, parents may have a chance to participate in the federal loan program to borrow money to help with their child's education.
  • Private loans: The university also partners with a private loan servicing company to provide additional help with financing.

 
Again, completing the FAFSA is the first stage of qualifying for student loans. Visit this page on University of the Cumberlands student loans for more information. 

Grants

A grant may offer you money to help pay for school. Unlike a loan, it does not have to be repaid. Criteria for earning a grant may include financial need, scholarship, participation in certain activities, and other factors. Besides federal grants, you may also qualify for some specific state grants for Kentucky residents. Learn more about University of the Cumberlands college grants here. 

Work Study

The federal work-study program helps students earn money to pay for school and gain valuable work experience. At University of the Cumberlands, most of these jobs are located on the campus. Some students may also get accepted for off-campus jobs, typically for non-profit organizations or community agencies. Acceptance into the work-study program also requires a completed FAFSA. Learn more about our work study here

Payment Plans

In an effort to make education as affordable as possible, University of the Cumberlands may also offer payment plans for expenses such as tuition and fees. Typically, these plans will help extend the due date for the total payment beyond the beginning of the semester. Learn about tuition payment plans here.
 

Start Preparing for Your University Education Today With Our Help

To get started planning for college expenses, you should complete your application for FAFSA and, of course, your application to University of the Cumberlands. Never just assume that college is outside your financial reach before you learn which assistance programs you can qualify for. The University of the Cumberlands offers both graduate and undergraduate students with professors who have real-world experience, competitive tuition, financial assistance and, most important, high standards in the way we treat our students. Contact admissions today.