Obtaining financial aid for community college is a task that is much easier to manage than many parents and students believe. Owing to the fact that a two-year college is normally less expensive per term than four-year institutions, the assumption is often made that options for financial aid are somewhat limited. The fact is that there are a number of sources of financial aid for community college, including government grants, college loans, and even privately funded scholarships.
In many nations, financial aid for community college is based on need. This means that qualified students may be able to participate in grant programs providing assistance with tuition, books, and other costs associated with enrollment. Typically, the student receiving funds from a grant program must maintain a minimum grade point average and register for the minimum number of courses needed to be considered a full-time student. Periodic reviews are conducted to affirm that the student has remained in compliance with grant qualifications.
Along with grant programs, students may also seek financial aid for community college in the form of education loans. Available from both private and public sector providers, these loans often require similar qualifications as those used for grant programs. Students must remain enrolled in the institution and carry enough classes each term to comply with the loan standards. Many loans also require that a minimum grade point average be maintained. With student loans, it is often possible to defer all or most of the balance of the loan until several months after graduation, providing the former student with time to secure a job and begin generating some type of income that can be used to repay the loans.
A third means of obtaining financial aid for community college is the scholarship. As with other options, the student must meet specific criteria in order to be considered for the aid, and must also maintain certain academic standards in order to continue receiving funds from the program. Scholarships may include matching plans in which a religious organization, private club, employer, or community organization provides up to a maximum amount of aid, with the scholarship matching that amount. Like grants, scholarships usually do not have to be repaid, which helps to minimize the financial burden of the student after graduation.
Exploring different types of financial aid for community college normally begins by working with financial aid officers at the college in question. Advisers can alert students to sources of funding that may be appropriate based on factors such as income level, age, and gender, as well as academic standing. A number of independent organizations will also often provide assistance in identifying grants, loans, and scholarships that may be right for the student, usually in exchange for a fee.