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Paying for College

Stay in the know about Loans, Grants, and Scholarships


When deciding how to fund your college education, you may be scratching your head at all the options. What is a grant? How can I get a scholarship? Do I need a private student loan?

Read More FSB's Student Loans

Getting Started with Student Loans

Truthfully, every student’s situation is different. To determine what financial aid option works best for you, it’s essential to understand your options. Consider some of the options below to help determine how you can fund your education!

Table of Contents

  1. Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA)
  2. Scholarships Options
  3. College Savings Account
  4. Federal Loans
  5. Private Loans

Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA)

The FAFSA is the best starting place, as it will notify you of any grants or work-study options you may qualify for, in addition to federal student loan options. Some states and individual schools also provide additional aid to eligible students. Most of the time, grant and work-study options do not need to be paid so long as you maintain the enrollment requirements.

Federal student loans, however, are required to be paid back starting six months after graduation. So be sure to consider alternative methods before accepting any federal loans!

Get Started with FAFSA

Scholarships Options

Grants and work-study opportunities will often only cover part of your tuition. Before turning to student loans, explore scholarship options. Many scholarships are available to students in varying amounts, from $100 to full rides! The best part is that scholarships do not have to be repaid.

Most, if not all, scholarships will require you to apply. Many scholarships also require an essay submission with the application describing why you are a deserving recipient. School guidance counselors are an excellent resource for finding scholarships, and the Department of Labor also has a comprehensive scholarship finder on its website.

Scholarship Finder

College Savings Account

Some students will have the advantage of using a 529 plan to pay for school. A 529 plan is a tax-free state-sponsored college investment account for qualifying education expenses only. Many parents will open these accounts for their children when they are young and deposit money periodically, allowing the investments to maximize before their child goes to college.

Every state offers at least one 529 plan, but you don’t have to choose your state’s plan (though you typically get a state tax deduction). However, if another state’s plan works best for you, you may opt for that one instead.

Start Planning with FSB

Federal Loans

As mentioned above, filling out a FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal student loans. Many borrowers will be offered both a subsidized and unsubsidized loan option. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you are in school, but unsubsidized do. You are not required to take the entire amount you qualify for and should only accept what you need to cover your tuition, textbooks and materials, housing, and other school-related expenses.

In addition, federal loans offer many benefits that are not available with private loans. For instance, federal loans offer loan forgiveness for those working in certain professions within public service or education. They also offer income-driven repayment plans, ensuring that you are spending only a certain percentage of your income on monthly payments once you become eligible for repayment six months after graduation.

Private Loans

These must be paid back in a set monthly payment, starting six months after graduation. Additionally, nearly all private loans accrue interest while you are in school. These can be harder to qualify for, and students often need a co-signer to be approved. While options exist for those with limited or less-than-perfect credit, the interest rates on these are typically higher. If you need to take out a private loan, be sure to explore all of your options. Some lenders have more perks than others and may offer flexibility for those struggling to make payments down the road.


No matter how you pay for college, take advantage of funds you don’t need to repay, assuming you maintain your enrollment status first, followed by funds from your 529 plan. This recommendation will allow you to take out only the amount you need in federal loans, private loans, or a combination of both. The fewer loans you need, the less time you’ll spend paying them off following graduation.

FSB's Student Loans

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