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Paying for College
Summary: Paying for College
Paying for College

Savings
You and your parents or guardians can make contributions to a regular savings account or to a College Savings Plan. Putting away as little as $20 a month throughout high school will result in having $1,200 in savings by the time you graduate! Section 529 plans, or Qualified Tuition Plans (QTP), are named after an IRS Code that specifies these plans to be free from federal income tax. For more information, go to www.finaid.org/savings .

Scholarships, Grants & Tuition Waivers
Scholarships, including grants or tuition waivers, are gifts from the federal government, organizations and/or schools that do not need to be repaid. There are generally two types of scholarships:
Merit Scholarships are for students with special qualifications, such as academic, artistic or athletic talent; or for those interested in a particular field of study; or for students from specified backgrounds such as Italian-Americans, students in agricultural communities, etc.  
Need-Based Scholarships are reserved for students who are underrepresented or who can demonstrate financial need.  Sometimes, scholarship programs measure both merit and need. 
There are thousands of scholarships available from a range of organizations and colleges for nearly every type of student. See www.finaid.org for scholarship resources such as: Scholarships for Average Students, Less Competitive Scholarships, Community Service Scholarships or Hispanic/Latino Scholarships. You can also check out free websites like www.fastweb.com or www.collegeboard.com for more information. 

Local Scholarships
Each year seniors have the opportunity to apply for many scholarships given by local service and special interest organizations. There are two Scholarship Nights held at the SVHS where students can receive information to apply; dates and times are on the SVHS website. For a complete list of the SVHS Scholarships available and submission deadlines, visit the Counseling office, look on the College & Career Center bulletin board or look on the SVHS website. The new list for this year will be posted in the spring semester.

Beware of Scholarship Scams

Unfortunately, there are companies who try to take advantage of students and families seeking financial aid. A general rule is, if you have to pay money to get money, it's probably a scam. For more info, go to www.finaid.org

Loans
This type of financial aid must be repaid with interest. There are three major loan categories: student loans (e.g., Stafford and Perkins loans), parent loans (e.g., PLUS loans) and private student loans (also called alternative student loans). A fourth type of education loan, the consolidation loan, allows the borrower to lump all of his/her loans into one loan for simplified payment. Federal education loans are available in either the Direct Loan or federally-guaranteed student loan programs. For more information, see www.finaid.org/loans.


Applying for Financial Aid
You should apply for aid every year, even if you think you don't qualify, as there are many factors that affect eligibility, such as a change in your family's financial circumstances or a sibling enrolled in college.  It is important to note that schools will have differing requirements and deadlines or financial aid applications. Some schools even have separate applications for financial aid. Please look at each school carefully for requirements and deadlines.
 
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

To apply for student financial aid from the federal government, including the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, Perkins Loan, Stafford Loan and work-study, you will need to submit a FAFSA.  The FAFSA is also required by all state and many school student assistance programs. Some private colleges and universities will require one or more supplemental forms to obtain information not included on the FAFSA.

The FAFSA can be completed on paper, but is easy to complete online by students and/or their parents/guardians.  Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov earn more about the information required and view helpful tutorials. The FAFSA4caster allows you to estimate your eligibility for financial aid and get a jump start on your FAFSA. Though the form cannot be submitted until after January 1, you should visit the website beforehand so you are prepared to apply as early as possible. SVHS offers a Financial Aid Night and FAFSA workshops in January.


College Scholarship Service (CCS) Profile

Required by many private colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution's own grants, loans and scholarships, the CCS Profile can be found at profileonline.collegeboard.com. This form is very long and extremely detailed but will expand your scholarship options for those schools that utilize the forms.

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Sonoma Valley High School 20000 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476
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