Grants, not loans

Imagine you are a senior in high school, opening up a letter from your university or college of choice to find you have been officially accepted.

Before you start jumping for joy, one question pops into your mind– how on earth am I going to pay for this?

This is a legitimate concern, as the cost for education can be a bit pricy.

For students living on-campus, the total costs for a California Community College education is $13,929, a California State University education is $23,444, a University of California education is $31,700, and a private university education runs up a $50,470 price tag, according to californiacolleges.edu.

You could always go for loans, but seeing as 48 percent of 24 to 34 year-old Americans say they are unemployed or underemployed according to the American Student Assistance organization, banking on being able to pay your monthly payments is not the best choice.

For everyone eligible, the clear best option may be to file for federal grants.

For those unaware, a grant is money awarded by the government to those who meet the qualifications, to be used for education and living expenses.

This money does not need to be paid back.

You read correctly.

Government grants for education do not need to be paid back.

If you are considering taking out loans over grants, then you are making a serious mistake.

The Federal Pell Grant awards up to $5,550 a year according to studentaid.ed.gov. But there is more.

Cal Grants, which comes from (you guessed it) the California government, offers out even large potential sums to college students in need.

Cal Grant A recipients attending a University of California can receive up to $12,192 a year, California State University recipients can receive up to $5,970 a year, and recipients from “independent colleges” can receive up to $9,223 a year according to the California Student Aid Commission.

The careful reader will have noticed one thing and have a question on their mind.

What about community college students?

For those who were awarded the Cal Grant A and attending a California Community College will have their fees and tuitions covered by the grant, and the full sum will be awaiting them when they transfer according to the California Student Aid Commission.

Cal Grant B recipients can receive a $1,473 payment, and Cal Grant C recipients can receive $547 for technical schools or up to $2,462 for tuition and fees for those attending a school for a vocational education, except at California Community Colleges, as fees are waived for Cal Grant recipients, all according to the California Student Aid Commission.

All this money. All of it at no cost to you, and all you have to do is meet their requirements to receive it.

Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it really is not.

If you can qualify for the grants, there is absolutely no reason for you not to take them.

They are a much better deal than becoming another cog of the growing student debt in the United States.

For more information, check out www.csac.ed.gov and fafsa.ed.gov to check your eligibility and apply for grants.