Timing & Options to Consider

Do you need financial aid if you plan to attend college? Silly question, huh. Seems like who doesn’t? According to The Wall Street Journal, a little over 70% of full-time undergraduate college students are leaving school with student loans.

There are a number of financial aid choices for students, including scholarships, federal grants and loans, and private student loans.


Scholarships.com is a useful site that can help you locate scholarships free of charge. Check these regularly for upcoming due dates and requirements, as many scholarship applications are due the fall or winter the year prior to when you plan to start paying for college.

Vantage Credit Union also awards 10 $1,000 Quest For Education Scholarships each year. High school seniors who are primary account holders at the credit union can apply when our application becomes available in the fall. Check our scholarship page for all the details.

Federal Financial Aid

Federal student aid is also available and includes:

Grants—Free money that doesn’t have to be repaid
Loans—These are real loans that need to be repaid, with interest

To receive any type of federal student aid, you must first complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The schools you list on this application will use this information to evaluate your financial need and determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

The FAFSA is available each January for the upcoming school year. You’ll need to provide personal and tax information. You’re encouraged to fill it out as soon as you’re able because some aid is first come, first served.

After submitting your FAFSA, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information in your FAFSA.

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, offers some helpful To-Do lists for students with college aspirations.

9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

Timing is Everything

With any financial aid, it’s important to complete and submit applications as soon as possible. Many forms of aid have deadlines you must meet to qualify. Be aware that many state colleges have earlier deadlines for applying for state and institutional financial aid.

Check Federal and State Deadlines

Private Student Loans

A private student loan is a credit-based education loan made in the student’s name. One important thing to note is that it’s always best to apply for as many scholarship, federal and work-study options as possible before considering a private student loan.

When it comes to financial aid, there’s a lot of homework to do before you ever attend your first college class, so don’t wait and “cram.” It could cost you quite a bit in financial aid!