Paying for College

How to Get Help Paying for College

When you hear about how much a college education can cost, it can be kind of scary. You may wonder how you and your family will be able to afford it. Just about everyone worries about this, so you are not alone. It turns out there are a lot of different ways to get money for college, and we are going to explain all of them to you here. Of course, you can always call or email WOU Financial Aid to ask questions, and there are a lot of online resources that can help, too.

First, we are going to explain the different types of money you can get to help pay your WOU tuition. We also have made a video about this, which you can view any time you like.

Remember, too, that getting money for a college degree always starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) (for undocumented or DACA students). Just about any other step you take will depend on whether you have completed one of these forms. They both are available to submit online starting Oct. 1 every year (must be filled out EVERY YEAR), and the earlier you and your family fill them out, the better, because some money goes to the earliest birds.

If you are unsure which form to use, this quiz can help.

The Four Types of Finacnial Aid

Scholarships: Scholarships are money that you don’t have to pay back. Some require individual applications (such as scholarships based on your major), and some are competitive. In general, they go to applicants with very good grades, financial need, athletics, leadership experience or other considerations. Scholarship opportunities can be found in your community, at your high school, online and possibly through your employer, if you have a job.

WOU offers dozens of different scholarships to help WOU students pay for college. Many of the scholarships can be applied for with a single form, the General Scholarship Application.

Grants: Grants, like scholarships, are money that you don’t have to pay back. They are given out based on financial need and can be combined with scholarships and other sources of funding to pay for college. The best known grant are the Pell Grant, which is given by the federal government, and the Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is awarded by the state.

Loans: Loans are money you do have to pay back. However, they have low interest rates and often don’t have to be paid back until after you leave college. The most a first-year student can get in loans each year is $5,500. There are also loans for parents, called Parent PLUS Loans, that can make up the difference.

Work study: This is money you earn by having a job on or off campus while you are a student. The good thing about it is that it can be used for college costs other than tuition, such as housing or books.

WOU has a lot of resources to help you understand the different kinds of financial aid available to you, as well as information on how to find more scholarships to apply for. Once you are admitted to WOU, you’ll be able to apply for more than 80 WOU scholarships with one easy form.

Now let’s learn some important words you will see when you are looking at a financial aid offer. You will receive this offer, or “package” from WOU Financial Aid after you apply to WOU. That package will list the kinds of aid you can get to earn your degree at WOU.