Calculating College Costs
Don't just consider tuition. A school’s Cost of Attendance (COA) also includes room and board, books, fees, travel, and incidentals like clothing and entertainment. All colleges are required to have a net price calculator on their website, which should help you figure it out.
Financial aid includes scholarships and grants (which don’t have to be repaid), loans (which do), and work study. It is appropriate for you (or more likely your parents) to speak to the financial aid officer at any school to which you’re applying and ask what kind of aid you are likely to be eligible for at that school.
Scholarships and Grants = Free Money
A school may offer you a scholarship based on merit (high academic performance or other specific talent, interest, or major), or on financial need. Scholarships come from other sources, too: HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships are examples of merit scholarships; Achieve Atlanta is an example of a need-based scholarship. Grants are often need-based, such as the Pell Grant, a federal government award that does not need to be repaid.
Loans = Money You MUST PAY BACK WITH INTEREST!
Loans are available from the federal government (such as the Perkins, Stafford, and PLUS loans), from colleges, and from private lenders. Try your best to graduate from college with minimal student debt. Calculate how much your monthly payments will be after you graduate. If you won't be able to afford that on what someone in your field should expect to earn, find a different program at a school that will offer you more scholarship money.
This program allows you to work on campus part time to earn money toward your tuition.
Virtually all institutions require you to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for any type of federal financial aid consideration. Georgia's HOPE & Zell Miller scholarships can also be applied for via the FAFSA. The FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year will open in December 2023. Fill it out ASAP to be eligible for the most aid possible. Because the FAFSA calls for parent and student financial information, this is something that parents will probably need to be involved with. The FAFSA is only valid for 1 year, so aid must be reapplied for annually.
The GSFAPP (Georgia State Financial Application is for applying for any type of state financial aid consideration, such as the HOPE & Zell Miller grants and scholarships. The GSFAPP is valid for 10 years, so if you'd prefer to ONLY apply for state aid, the GSFAPP would be a good option.
Some institutions, mostly private, require this form in addition to the FAFSA in order to collect additional information for financial aid decisions. Students are responsible for checking to see what forms each school requires.
Georgia Student Finance Commission
The primary resource for information about financial aid services for the state of Georgia is the Georgia Student Finance Commission.