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Financial Aid

Financial Aid For College Or Trade School

Federal student aid comes from the federal government – specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It's money that helps you pay for education expenses at a postsecondary school (e.g., college, vocational school, graduate school).

Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for a computer and for dependent care. There are 3 categories of federal student aid: grants, loans and work-study. Financial aid includes scholarships but those do not come from the U.S. Government:

Federal Grants

Grants, like scholarships, are sometimes called gift aid because they don’t need to be repaid. Grants are usually distributed based on financial need rather than merit.

After submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students who demonstrate financial need may receive the following federal grants:

  • Federal Pell Grant: This grant is usually awarded to undergraduates only. The amount available to any qualifying student changes from year to year. For the 2018-19 school year, the maximum award is $6,095. You could qualify for this grant if you demonstrate enough financial need.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): This grant is administered directly by your college’s financial aid office, but not all colleges participate. If eligible, you can receive awards ranging from $100 to $4,000 per year, depending on your financial need and the availability of funds at your school.
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant): Students who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue a career in teaching can be awarded up to $3,752 per year.

Federal Work-Study

The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time jobs to undergraduate and graduate students. These jobs allow students to gain career experience and earn money for college. These jobs are specific to each school, so availability of work-study jobs differs from one college to the next. Students in the program will earn at least the federal minimum wage, and can work as much as their award amounts allow.

Jobs in the program could be on campus or off campus. However, even if you qualify for a work-study award, jobs aren’t guaranteed. You must still search and apply for available positions.

Undergrad students are paid hourly; grad students, either hourly or by salary. You’ll receive payment from the school at least once a month; you’ll receive payment directly, unless you request the funds to go directly to your bank account or back to the school to cover education expenses.

Work-study isn’t technically free money; you’re earning it by working. Still, it provides another source of funding for school, just like grants.

Undergraduate Federal Student Loans

Grants and work-study don’t require reimbursement. Federal student loans, on the other hand, are borrowed from the federal government and must be repaid, usually with interest. All federal undergraduate loans have the same fixed rate, determined by Congress.

These loans don’t have to be paid back until after graduation, but students can begin making payments at any time, even if they’re interest-only payments. The sooner you repay your loan, the less money you will pay in interest.

New undergrad students can apply for loans through the Federal Direct Loan Program. The program includes:

  • Direct Loans: These are loans for undergrad and grad students. They can be subsidized or unsubsidized if you’re an undergrad student. Subsidized means the government pays the interest on your loan while you’re in college and up until deferment ends, while unsubsidized loans require you to pay all accrued interest. All loans for grad students are unsubsidized.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are available for parents taking out loans for their kids, as well as grad students and those pursuing other professional degrees. Direct PLUS Loans are always unsubsidized.

Note: Subsidized loans are based on financial need.

Federal loans also offer special benefits when it comes time to repay, including income-based repayment, loan forgiveness, military benefits, and others.

Colleges With Discounted Tuition / WUE

More than 140 public institutions in the following states offer discounted tuition (150% of in-state tuition, often for a savings of close to $10,000 per year): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, N.Dakota, Oregon, S. Dakota, Utah, Washington & Wyoming. See WUE website for details, deadlines and requirements!

Colleges in neighboring states that offer in-state/border-state discounted tuition to NM students:

  • Adams State University, Alamosa, CO
  • West Texas A & M University, Canyon, TX
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

Comparing College Costs / Financial Aid Awards