Financial aid process

 

They say your education can pay for itself in the long run.  However, any time a decision to go to college and further your education is made usually entails entering into an amount of debt, usually of significant value.  The very idea of incurring debt to go to school keeps many from furthering their education, but this should not deter someone from pursuing their dream career.

Just like any other college degree, an online paralegal certificate or degree program does involve a significant amount of money.  Most programs charge per course, which can be in the hundreds of dollars per class, leaving the student wondering how he or she will pay for one class, let alone the several that are needed in order to complete the program.

Financial aid is available for online education programs, but the very first step before applying for any sort of financial aid is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  The application is completely free, so beware of companies out there offering to complete the form for a small fee.  With the right amount of help, filling out the FAFSA form, while it is intimidating, can be fairly simple.  

A new FAFSA form must be completed annually, and the new form is made available online  as of January 1st.  The form must be completed by March 31st before an application will be considered.  In light of new technology, the form is significantly easier to fill out than in years past.

Before completing the form, certain information will need to be made readily available, including the student’s income, spouse’s income or parent’s income if the student is considered a dependent.  This information can be readily found through the IRS website.

For students still living at home or dependent on their parents’ incomes, each income must be reported.  For independent students only the student’s income is needed or spouse’s income for married applicants. You can complete your FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.

A number of options exist for financial aid, including federal and state grants, as well as private grants through banks.  Some schools do offer scholarship programs for students; however, online programs do not have as many available scholarship programs as traditional educational programs offer.  It is normally recommended that government grants be sought before private ones as interest rates tend to be lower.

It may seem impossible but it is completely possible.  A higher education comes with a cost, but the rewards pay back in the end so long as you do your research and preparation.

Center for Advanced Legal Studies:  http://www.paralegal.edu

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