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Hidden Sources of Financial Aid

As you look at the many options available to pay for college, be sure to look beyond the standard Federal loans, grants, and work-study options. While these sources of federal financial aid are extremely helpful for many students who demonstrate financial need, they usually do not cover all tuition and expenses for many students. Other important sources of financial aid include:


In addition to grants and loans, scholarships can be a vital part of your financial aid package to help you pay for college. Like grants, scholarships offer the attractive advantage of not requiring repayment. When starting your scholarship search, start with your college’s financial aid office to see what scholarship awards are available. Often, scholarships will be based on merit (requiring a certain GPA or excellence in a sport or other extracurricular activity); need, helping to offset the costs of tuition and education expenses for students whose family financial contribution is low; or ethnicity, offering awards to students based (at least in part) on ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Often, scholarships are based on a combination of these factors.


Private and Alternative Loans

Alternative and private student loans can help cover tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other higher education-related expenses. As opposed to federal subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, alternative and private loans are not provided by the federal government. These loans are offered by many banks, credit unions, and other institutions and are not federally funded. Alternative and private student loans offer students a way to cover tuition and expenses that are not met by other forms of financial aid. In many cases, students can pay for the full cost of their tuition with a private loan.


Institutional Grants

Many private organizations, institutions, community and civic groups, and four-year colleges and universities offer institutional grants to students who fit certain criteria. Grants are available to women, ethnic and religious minorities, children of veterans and military service people, children of first-generation immigrants, Native Americans, students with exceptional athletic and artistic talents, disabled students, and more.



Using the power of the Internet, community, and social networks, crowdfunding is a relatively new method of fundraising for everything from raising funds for a community playground to getting a film into production to funding a start-up company. Now, crowdfunding is being harnessed as a way for students with financial need to raise funds toward tuition and expenses of higher education.


The Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA)

The Department of Veteran's Affairs offers financial aid programs specifically for veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and widows and orphans of veterans.


The U.S. Army

The Army offers many educational benefits for military members and in some cases their family members. These programs include the Military GI Bill as well as the Army's College Fund, which offers assistance in paying for education expenses. In addition, the Army Loan Repayment Program offers options for repayment of eligible federally insured education loans taken by Army or Army Reserve personnel.



AmeriCorps is a project of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Students of any age can earn education benefits through this program in exchange for a year of community service.


Internships & Fellowships

Many internships and fellowships offer some assistance in paying for college. Visit for information about scholarships, internships, fellowships, and more.

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