College 101

The Flavors of Financial Aid
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or sea salt caramel? With a bachelor's degree to pay for, you'd may need to opt for a heaping scoop of each.

"Pretty please, with a cherry on top?"


Money You Work For

  • Federal Work Study. It's simple, really: you work a job on campus, and your college – using funds provided by the U.S. government – pays you for that work. We're not talking big money here, but it's usually enough to cover the cost of books, personal expenses, or travel to and from home. Sounds like a good deal, right? Unfortunately, you have to be eligible to receive work study funding. Grrr. For the 411, check out Quick & Dirty: Federal Work Study.
  • Student Loans. No doubt you've heard the horror stories; they are many and varied. While it's true that student loans can snowball into a terrifying mountain of debt, and while it's also true that filing for bankruptcy won't save you from a collection agency's midnight phone calls, it is possible to pay for college using loans without getting skinned alive. You'd be better off poisoning your rich great-aunt and stealing all her money, though. Learn more at Quick & Dirty: College Loans.

Nothing Is Free, Except Free Money

  • Scholarships. Beautiful, beautiful scholarships. Acquire as many of them as you can. While some scholarships are need-based, there are others that will reward you for your smarts, your athletic skills, your community service work, your Armenian-American heritage, or your ability to write a really thoughtful essay about the role of social events in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Desperate for dough? See Tasty Bits: Scholarships.
  • Grants. Unlike federal work study, where you actually have to man the front desk at your school's rec center in order to get paid, grants are...grants. They are free money, provided by American taxpayers and passed along to you by a loving Uncle Sam. Answer the questions on the FAFSA in a way the government likes (sadly, questions do not include “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” and “What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?”), and grant money may be yours. Click on over to Quick & Dirty: Grants.
  • Alternative Aid. It comes in all manner of forms, which we won't go into here because that would be too easy. Learn more at Quick & Dirty: Alternative Aid.