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Planning for college, part 3: 5 strategies to access higher education state aid programs

Today we would like to continue our discussion on the importance of planning for college by discussing state aid programs that offer prospective college, junior college, and trade school students financial help.

Millions of Americans looking to finance their higher education begin the process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA is where all college students apply to receive financial aid from such well-known federal loan programs as Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and the Federal Work-Study Program.

What’s terribly regrettable, however, is that many of these students stop their search for financial aid at this point, and do not consider another important source for higher education financial help: their state. This is a mistake, especially considering that there are over 600 state aid programs available around the country. Here are our five strategies to explore higher education state aid programs:

Begin the search for state financial aid opportunities by contacting NASFAA

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators is an excellent resource to find state financial aid programs. There isn’t a state in the country that does not have at least one grant or scholarship program available to its residents, and most have many, many more. For more information, go to https://www.nasfaa.org/.

Continue the process by contacting the financial aid offices of specific colleges and universities to which you may be applying

Every college and university has its own financial aid office, with employees that should have extensive knowledge of all the state aid programs offered to their students. Incidentally, these offices should also have access to information on scholarship opportunities as well.

Reach out to the state higher education office in your area

A list of state agencies can be found through the United States Department of Education by visiting their site at http://www.ed.gov/. You can also do a quick search for your own state’s financial aid office.

Consider regional opportunities

Individual states are not the only ones with access to financial aid; there are various regions around the country that also provide opportunities to find discounted out-of-state tuition, including the Midwest, South, Western region, and New England. For more information, reach out to http://www.nasfaa.org/State_Regional_Tuition_Exchanges.

Conduct your own research, and take charge of your own future

Last but certainly not least is our recommendation that you work diligently to explore every possible state aid option available to you. The steps above are just the beginning of what you might find regarding state financial aid, and the more financial help you can find offset today’s exorbitant costs of a higher education the better off you will be.

At J.G.Wentworth, the nationwide leader in purchasing future structured settlement or annuity payments for cash, we understand that few things provide as much peace of mind as financial independence, and hope that you’ll do everything you can to jumpstart your post-collegiate life with as little debt as possible. And if you find yourself short of cash, or simply have questions about the possibility of selling your structured settlement or annuity payments, call our company anytime at 877-227-4713.

Nothing above is meant to provide financial, legal or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.