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Thinking About College Financial Aid

Posted: 10.01.20

It’s that time of year where many students are beginning to think about financing their future college education. Central Scholarship offers a College Cash workshop every year that focuses on teaching students and their families about college affordability. Stay tuned for upcoming College Cash dates in 20201, but in the meantime here are some of our top questions attendees typically ask

Q: What is a financial aid package?

A: A financial aid package is generated by your college or university to illustrate how the cost of school will be paid for, including things like tuition, room and board, and books. Financial aid comes from four sources: the federal government, the state government, your school, and private organizations like Central Scholarship.

Q: Is financial aid “free money,” or do I need to pay it back?

A: Often it is both. Colleges do not have to list loans separately in your financial aid package, so it can be very confusing. If you are confused about what is a loan (money you do have to pay back) and what is a scholarship or grant (money you don’t have to pay back), you should contact your school’s financial aid office and ask them to walk you through it and explain in detail what is and isn’t a loan.

Q: What’s the deal with loans? Should I use them to help pay for school?

A: If possible, you should avoid loaning money to help pay for school. In addition to the initial amount of money you loan, you will have to pay back something called “interest,” which is a percentage of the initial amount of money that is added on over the years it will take you to re-pay. Basically, you will have to pay back more than what you borrowed, and it adds up! That being said, many students do not have a choice but to borrow money to help pay for school.

Luckily, Central Scholarship has an interest-free loan program to help you pay! What you borrow is exactly what you pay back – there is 0% interest on our student loans. You can read more about that program here.

Q: How do I access financial aid for college?

A: First thing’s first: you need to complete your FAFSA to access almost all forms of financial aid. If you are applying with Central Scholarship, you can apply with us between January 1st and the first Monday in April every year via our website. If you are interested in Maryland state financial aid, you can browse through their different scholarships and their corresponding requirements and deadlines on their website. Central Scholarship also encourages you to call your school directly and ask them if there is a separate process for applying for scholarships with them.