Tuition assistance refers to the various methods available of helping students pay for a college education. This includes programs such as grants, loans, scholarships, or military and employment tuition assistance. It is a good idea for any student entering a college or university to research these various programs in order to help with the high cost of education.
The federal government offers a number of grant and loan programs for the purpose of tuition assistance. In order to be eligible for these programs, it is necessary to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA may be found online or in the guidance office of most high schools. The application will then be reviewed and the available federal grants and loans will be distributed based solely on financial need.
Grants are the first type of tuition assistance. This is money that does not need to be paid back; scholarships are also given to the student without needing to be repaid. Grants typically come from the government and are often need based, but they may come from private entities as well. Scholarships may come directly from the high school or university the student will be attending, or they may come from private parties.
Scholarships may be need based, merit based, or simply awarded based on requirements of the donor's choosing; for instance, one might be able to receive a scholarship for being a trombone player, performing community service, or simply for being a certain ethnicity. For this reason, it is a good idea to research scholarships as much as possible, particularly if one has particular skills, background, or interests that are unique. Many scholarships go unclaimed every year simply because no one applies.
The next avenue of tuition assistance is loans. Loans, obviously, will need to be paid back, but payments can typically be deferred until after graduation. Loans may be government-based or private; government loans tend to have lower interest rates, but also smaller caps. This means it will probably be necessary to supplement government loans with private loans in order to finance an entire education.
The last option for tuition assistance is from the military or an employer. Each branch of the military offers tuition assistance, but it is important to fully understand the guidelines and commitments beforehand, and to ask a recruitment officer any questions. Finally, many employers may also help to cover the cost of education, generally if the employee is pursuing a degree in a related field. This might be business or marketing, for instance. With determination and persistence, anyone should be able to find a way to pay for a college education.