|Sen. Roy Dyson
We are at that time of year when high school seniors and their parents contemplate attending college with excitement, high hopes and dread. The dread comes with the reality of the cost of college and how to afford that cost.
First, to apply for most State, federal and college need-based financial aid, as well as the Maryland Senatorial or Delegate Scholarship awards, students must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) by March 1. A paper FAFSA can be obtained from your high school, libraries and by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. Also, call this number for help in completing your FAFSA. A FAFSA can be obtained and filed online www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Each year, the State of Maryland awards to Maryland students nearly $95 million in need-based grants and academic merit scholarships through its 28 programs. Each year, 40,000 students get money that ranges from $200 per semester to nearly $18,000 per year. The State also offers graduate and professional scholarship grants up to $5,000 for those enrolled in graduate schools for medicine, dentistry, law, social work, veterinary science, pharmacy or nursing.
There are four basic sources of financial aid – federal, State, colleges and universities, and private sources, such as civic and veterans’ organizations and churches.
The four types of financial aid are:
- Merit-based aid, which is given to students who have special talents, skills or have earned good grades.
- Need-based aid, which is given to students who show they have financial needs. The Guaranteed Access or GA grant is a primary need-based aid program. A student must file a GA grant application by March 1. A GA grant equals 100 percent of financial need, ranging from $400 to the maximum award of $13,800. To be eligible, a student must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5. Maximum income for a family of four is $25,155. For the most up to date income information, refer to the Maryland Higher Education (MHEC) website www.mhec.state.md.us