How New York students can make college financial aid more manageable

In this Nov. 14, 2019, photo, a student attaches a note to the Resilience Project board on the campus of Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. The purpose of the project is to let students know that it is OK to struggle. More college students are turning to their schools for help with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. That's according to an Associated Press review of more than three dozen public universities. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

It’s no secret that college can be one of the most financially challenging and trying expenses that both students and families alike endure through for some years.

While it may not be an ‘ace in the hole’ towards tuition bills, there are ways to make the most of financial aid and other money saving methods for college tuition. 

First on the list for financial aid options is going to Uncle Sam by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. 

This determines what government tuition assistance you qualify for when it comes to paying the bills. After getting an accurate number of what aid you’ll be getting off the bat, then it’s time to get resourceful on how to manage collegiate expenses. 

While FAFSA applications are viewed at a federal level, most correspondence will come directly from the student’s school of choice.

The next step to offsetting tuition costs is finding private sources of funding, the most common forms of these are scholarships and grants. 

While many scholarships are merit based with schools, it never hurts to sit down and attempt to negotiate a deal — especially if you can show a competing offer that you wish to be matched by your college of choice.

Also, many companies and businesses offer scholarships that simply require a written essay or involvement in a program or project. In other words, being active in your community could be one of the most resourceful means to help pay off college.

Grants are another way to help take away from the burden of tuition. These come in the form of need based aid and which do not have to be repaid as a post-grad loan. There’s a plethora of state and federal grants to look into that could make a difference in costs, even if it just buys a semester’s worth of books, it adds up. 

Work-study programs are another viable option that could make a difference. The federal one offers part-time employment openings, usually close to the student’s field of study that goes towards tuition bills.

After all of that is said and done then next comes applying for loans to cover the rest of tuition’s cost. If you’re able to compile a decent amount of grant, aid, and scholarship money prior to applying to loans, then it does become more manageable — even if it’s piece by piece it certainly does add up. 

Experts also advise to not exclusively base college choices off costs. If the school and the program is right, then ideally you will be able to cover the bills following your years there. While that’s not always the case, studying hard and doing your research on offsetting costs always helps in the meantime.

AMNY Newsletter

Eat it. Drink it. Do it. Tackle the city, with our help.