A community college is a great place to start your post-secondary educational path. Here, students can learn in a smaller environment and improve their transcripts. 

These institutions give students the chance to earn associate’s degrees and certificates through concentrated instruction. Some community colleges are even starting to offer bachelor’s degree programs. 

If you are planning on going to a two-year college, you may not consider financial aid. Many students and parents believe that financial aid for community college students isn’t worth applying for. Why would community colleges offer financial aid when their tuition costs are already “discounted?”

We’re here to tell you that financial aid for community college students is available and encouraged! In this guide, we’ll help you understand the types of financial aid available to community college students and how long you’ll have access to them. 

How Much Financial Aid Can You Get For Community College?

There is no limit to the amount of financial aid you can as a student at a two-year college! Follow these tips to avoid getting yourself in a sticky financial situation later on:

  • Don’t take on more courses than you can handle (you will have to pay for dropped courses)
  • Never borrow more than you need
  • Don’t procrastinate when it comes to applying for aid

Why Do You Need To Submit a FAFSA Form?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. As the name implies, it won’t cost you anything to fill out. This application helps the government determine your eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid. 

If you fail to fill out the FAFSA, you will be leaving free money on the table.

Many students and their families fail to fill out the FAFSA because they don’t think they’ll qualify for financial aid. It’s worth a shot! You may be surprised at the funds you qualify for. Some scholarships based on academic merit will require you to submit the FAFSA anyway. 

Other common reasons that some students don’t fill out the FAFSA are that the form is too difficult to complete and takes too much time. 

On the contrary, the FAFSA requires tax information from older years, so you’ll already have access to it. The whole application usually takes under 30 minutes to complete. A half-hour of your time is worth years of potential financial aid. 

There are certain deadlines for the FAFSA, depending on when you plan to enter school. Make sure you meet these deadlines, so you don’t put your financial aid at risk. 

Financial Aid Opportunities and How Long You Can Get Them

Private loans aren’t affordable for most college students. Luckily, there are many alternatives to costly private loans. 

Check out the different opportunities and how long you can get them for:

Stafford Loans

Stafford loans are also known as direct loans. These are the primary loans offered by the federal government.

You can request one of two types of loans: a subsidized or unsubsidized student loan. You must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a subsidized student loan. Anyone can receive an unsubsidized loan regardless of financial need.

Depending on the degree program you’re in, you can receive up to $20,500 every year. 

Perkins Loans

Perkins loans are some of the most favorable loans for community college students. The interest rates and repayment terms are much better than those of most private student loans. 

Students can receive up to $5,500 per year, but the amount you get will depend on your financial need and the amount of aid you receive from other sources. 

PLUS Loans

PLUS loans are federal loans available to parents of college students. The qualifying parents must have a good credit history. 

These loans will cover the costs of a student’s attendance minus any other financial aid they have received. 

Pell Grants

A Pell Grant is a financial award that doesn’t have to be repaid. It goes to college students with significant financial need.

This grant is quite generous. According to the Federal Student Aid Office, the maximum amount for this award was $6,345 in the 2020-2021 award year. You can receive this grant for up to 12 terms, which equates to about six years. 

State Programs

So far, we’ve discussed financial aid for community college students at the federal level. Many states offer financial aid for students who live in that particular state. 

A lot of state programs will cover a community college student’s entire time at the institution. 

Scholarships

“Scholarship” is a broad term. Some scholarships are one-time payments of a predetermined amount. For example, let’s say that a student secures a $1,000 scholarship from a local organization. He or she can use these funds for any expenses related to their college education. 

Other types of scholarships may be paid out on a per-semester or per-year basis. 

Scholarships can be specific to your school or area or distributed at the national level by the government. Businesses, private organizations, and nonprofits commonly offer them as well. 

Conclusion

Attending community college is a big step in your educational future. To make this goal more attainable, you may have to seek one or more types of financial aid. 

Before you accept any financial aid, make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions. If you are accepting aid that needs to be repaid, you need to fully understand the debt you’re taking on.

While loans are viable options, you should look into both local and national scholarships. These gifts will help you pursue your education with peace of mind.

At Minorities to Majorities, we help underrepresented students discover scholarships they need to pursue academic careers. Contact us today to start looking for relevant and attainable scholarships that will help you afford your education.