Paying for College: Scholarships, Loans, and More

Ashley Yakish
Published on
May 18, 2021

Money is a huge factor when choosing college. There are many types of ways colleges assist you, such as through merit scholarships, need based scholarships, loans, and more. With so many different terminologies, it can get confusing and stressful. Be sure to understand these to get the maximum assistance for your education.

Merit Scholarships

Merit scholarships are awarded to you based on your academic performance. Unlike need-based scholarships, this does not take your need for financial aid. Each college has a different amount and requirement for these scholarships and usually has a limit to how many applicants can receive this. It is first-come, first-serve so make sure you apply early to receive this. To check for your college, search “[college name] merit scholarships.” This money does not have to be repaid.

Need-Based Scholarships

This type of scholarship is awarded based on your need for financial aid, ranging from full-ride to fraction of tuition covered. Some universities offer full-ride which covers everything for the student, while some offer full-tuition which only covers tuition and not room, board, etc. You must fill out the FAFSA and sometimes the CSS profile to determine your eligibility for non federal financial aid. This money does not have to be repaid.


College grant is another form of financial aid that can be used in addition to aids and scholarships. It is usually given directly to universities or colleges by federal financial aid.

Become a Resident Assistant

Resident assistant is a role you take in a college dorm to help students and take the responsibilities of looking out for your fellow classmates and your hall. It is usually only available to upperclassmen. Being a RA requires many skills such as leadership skills and can be tough, but they can receive benefits such as free or reduced housing, meal plan, and sometimes receive money. You should not become an RA just to receive benefits, though. You have to be committed to be successful as an RA.

Getting a Jobs at Your College

There are usually many opportunities to work at your own college part time and they usually offer benefits for students. Another perk of working at your school is that you don’t have to travel far from your dorm and have easier access.


Work-study is a federal student aid program that helps students with financial needs to get part-time jobs to earn incomes to pay for their education. You have to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible. Unlike having other forms of income, the money you earn from work-study does not affect your financial aid eligibility. Most are located inside your college so they are convenient with access.


Loans are money that you borrow to pay for your education. Unlike scholarships and grants, these have to be paid back with interest. This should be the last option after you take grants and scholarships to avoid paying extra which you could have covered by aids.

Do you want to learn how to fill out the FAFSA? Check out our  article: How Do You Apply for FAFSA.

Read the next article in our college application guide: The SAT, ACT, and TOEFL: How They Compare

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