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 financial aid consideration. The State of Georgia also requires it for students who want to receive the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship. The FAFSA is generally available on October 1. Fill it out as soon as possible! This is something that parents will probably need to be involved with, because it calls for their financial information.
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.