Sticker Shock Survival Suggestions

Below is a post from Fall 2015, containing some thoughts on an increasingly important part of the college search process – financial aid. We hope this will help you identify some of the funds available to assist in paying for college. Please let us know if you have questions!


What is financial aid?

This is a question that took me a long time to answer!  When I was a junior and senior in high school, the phrase “financial aid” sounded like a foreign language.  So what is it referring to exactly?  Simply put, financial aid is money that can be used to pay for college.  Financial aid comes in many different shapes and sizes!  Navigating the field of financial aid can be tricky, because every school is different and terminology can be confusing.  TIP: Ask questions!  If there is something that you do not understand, connect with someone who does.  

Basic financial aid lingo:

    • Scholarships and Grants. This is money that does not need to be repaid!  Check with your Admissions Counselor to ask about institutional scholarships.  You can also search for outside scholarships.  Your High School Guidance Office is a great resource for local community funds.  The Department of Education offers a Federal Pell Grant for qualifying students – this is a federally funded program.  To apply for this, you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • Student Loans.  Any type of loan is money that will need to be repaid to the borrower.  The Department of Education offers Stafford Loans to students and Parent PLUS loans to qualifying parents who wish to borrow on their student’s behalf – like the Pell Grant, these are also federally funded and you apply by filing the FAFSA.  There are also other lenders who will offer Private Alternative Loans.
      • TIP: When comparing loans, you’ll want to look at interest rates, the difference in interest rates with and without a cosigner, and various repayment options.

What is the difference between need-based scholarship and merit-based scholarship?

When you hear the word “scholarship”, acronyms like SAT, ACT, and GPA usually come to mind. It’s true that most scholarship offerings are dependent upon standardized test scores and academic coursework, but there are some scholarships that look at financial need instead. Don’t assume that when you hear the word “scholarship” a school is only talking about the ones that are given for academic performance. You will want to make sure you understand if the scholarship is merit-based (based on academic performance) or need-based (based on ability to pay for college).

Financial aid at Grove City College:

The founders of Grove City College were committed to affordable and accessible education.  We are proud to still honor that commitment by maintaining one of the best valued educations in the country!  Our tuition is about half the rate of comparable private schools and of the 87 private colleges in Pennsylvania we are the least expensive.

One of the most unique aspects about financial aid at Grove City College is that we do not accept federal funding.  What does this mean, exactly?  Grove City College is committed to financial freedom, as demonstrated by our affordable tuition.  Our idea of freedom is not being tied to the federal government.  In addition to our amazing value, our students may be eligible for aid based on financial need and academic achievement.  Grove City College also offers limited merit based grants and a private student loan program through PNC Bank.  Visit our financial aid page to learn more about what we offer!

What now?

Start asking questions!  Oftentimes, if your parents are involved in your college search they will be the ones to ask financial aid related questions.  Talk to your parents; ask them to keep you in the loop.  (Parents, this is a great opportunity for your students to start to think through basic money management strategies, if they haven’t already!)  Not even sure where to start with questions?  No problem!  Here are some of Grove City College’s frequently asked questions.

I would also recommend beginning to keep a folder for financial aid related questions and information.  This could include: questions to ask, answers you’ve found from college websites, questions you would like to ask in person, contact information for financial aid offices, and outside scholarships you have applied for.  In the financial aid world, deadlines are very important.  Paying close attention to deadlines could be the difference between you receiving or not receiving a scholarship!

Planning for college is an exciting time in your life.  As you research college options and financial aid, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Grove City College.  We are here to be resources for you as you begin this journey and our Admissions staff would love to hear from you!

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