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College and Career Planning - Paying to College

Financial aid is money that helps you pay for higher education. There is a vast array of grants, loans and scholarships available, and volumes have been written about them (Click on Prom/Career Books for Scholarship books). We will summarize the options here so you can get an overview.

You must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you want to apply for federal and state financial aid. Many colleges and universities, especially public institutions, also require the FAFSA. The FAFSA is available in paper and electronic formats. You can get the paper version from your high school, the financial aid office at any college or university, the public library, or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. The preferred method is to submit web-based version of the FAFSA at This has several advantages, including faster processing. It is important to submit FAFSA early (after January 1) before all the financial aid is awarded to other students.

You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that allows you to review and correct any wrong information, including any estimates made before your Parents’ 1040 forms were completed.

All federal, state, and many private sources use this form to award money for college.

Federal grants include:
Pell Grants
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are grants available for undergraduates only; awards range from $100-$4,000.

State grants include:
Guaranteed Access Grant is determined by student need. Awards range from $400 to $11,600.
Educational Assistance Grant is determined by student need and equals 35 percent of the financial need. The minimum annual award amount is $400 and the maximum award is $2,700.

Federal Stafford Loans are student loans that must be repaid and are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Funds may come from a bank or the government, depending on the school. First-year undergraduates are eligible for loans up to $2,625. These loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized based on need.
Federal PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans made to parents.
Perkins Loans are low-interest (5 percent) loans that must be repaid.
Maryland Loan Assistance Repayment Programs arrange for assistance with repayment of student loans by the State based on financial and career criteria, often with service obligations.

Maryland Legislative Scholarships are available by filing a FAFSA and contacting your local senator and delegate’s office. State-Based Merit and Career Based Scholarships are available for a variety of merit and need-based criteria, like certain careers and fields of study. Private scholarships are available for hundreds of sources for a variety of situations. Do your homework by searching books at the library or click on Prom/Career Books on the left, or by using a web-based scholarship search:

College-based scholarships and tuition reductions are based on merit and musical, athletic, artistic and scholastic achievement. Contact the school of your choice for more information. Federal Work Study provides jobs to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission
Office of Student Financial Assistance
839 Bestgate Road,
Suite 400
Annapolis, MD 21401
410 260-4565
800 974-1024
TTY 800 735-2258

Each year, the State of Maryland awards more than $80 million in financial aid to over 40,000 Maryland residents. Maryland students use this aid at community colleges, private colleges and universities, private career schools, and the State's 13 public four-year campuses. The Office of Student Financial Assistance, a division of the Maryland Higher Education Commissions, handles the administration of the financial aid funds.

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Paying for College:

Maryland Financial Aid Student Gateway to the U.S. Government Student Loans and Apply Online
Maryland Higher Education Commission Sources of Information
Maryland Online Student Toolbox
Find Aid Guide
Financial Aid calculator and Complete Financial Aid Guide
Paying for College at iApply
Maryland State Financial Aid
Maryland Prepaid College Trust
Federal Student Aid-U.S. Dept. of Education
Compare College Loan programs

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