Financial Difficulties: Obtaining Loans, Grants, and Scholarships

Step 1: If you haven't already done so, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal, state, and institutional student financial aid programs. Be sure to apply on time (see the Student Aid calendar for dates). Applying on time is critical to receiving the maximum financial aid for which you may be eligible. Contact the Office of Student Aid for information about applying for and receiving financial aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships.

Step 2: Search for scholarships, which are awarded based on your qualifications (such as grade-point average and student activities), financial need, or a combination of the two. Although the competition for scholarships can be strong, the following strategies may be helpful:

Step 3: Retain your student financial aid eligibility by successfully completing your course work each semester. Dropped, failed, cancelled, or withdrawn courses may have negative repercussions on the Satisfactory Academic Progress required to receive federal and state financial aid.

Your financial aid is directly related to your enrollment. If you decide to take a break from the University for a semester or two, be sure to apply for a leave of absence to protect your enrollment status and possibly your aid eligibility. If you must leave during the semester, speak with both your academic adviser and a student aid adviser to determine the best course of action (e.g., withdrawal).

Withdrawing once the semester has begun may have serious financial implications (see Withdrawal and Aid). For example, you may have to return the financial aid you received during the semester. Before withdrawing, contact the Office of Student Aid at your campus to discuss your future aid eligibility. If you withdraw from school and fail to re-enroll, you must start repaying your loans.

Note: Under certain circumstances, the federal government may cancel all or part of an educational loan that you would otherwise be expected to pay back in full. This practice is called "loan forgiveness." Other options for reducing or canceling your loan debt after graduation may be possible if you work for the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, U.S. military service, Teach for America, ACTION programs, Head Start, and other organizations.