Why sugarcoat it? College is expensive and financial aid can be confusing. But rather than thinking of it as an expense, it may more be more useful to think about it as an investment in yourself and your future.
But investments still need funding.
And while PSU is Oregon's most affordable public university, 60% of PSU students receive some kind of financial aid during their time as an undergraduate student.
So what is financial aid? To put it simply, financial aid is any money not provided by you or your family that helps you pay for college. This money can cover anything from tuition and student fees to housing, food, books and transportation. If you need it to succeed in school, financial aid can cover it.
There are multiple ways to receive financial aid ranging from university scholarships to federal loans, but it all starts with filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is your key to making college more affordable. Check out our special blog post dedicated to deciphering the FAFSA for all the details.
Let's take a closer look at the financial aid offered at Portland State, and what they mean for you.
PSU offers nearly 450 scholarships every year to students from all backgrounds! These scholarships range from awards based on academics to athletics to activism, and they can be used to pay tuition, student fees, housing and much more. Scholarships are not loans, and thus never need to be paid back to the university. It's essentially free money. You heard that right. Free. Money.
PSU's General Scholarship Application is due by February 1 ever year, so check out our detailed list of all university scholarships. Every scholarship is different, and some require letters of recommendation, writing samples and other supplemental materials, so start the application process early to ensure you will get yours in on time.
There are also a lot of national scholarships not specific to Portland State. For more information on these scholarships, visit the student finance home page.
Many universities (PSU included) receive grants from the Federal Government to help students pay for college. These grants are split up into two categories: need-based and merit-based. Like scholarships, federal grants do not require to be repaid. More. Free. Money.
The most common federal grant is the Pell Grant. Pell Grants are need-based financial awards that are distributed to students based on the information provided in their FAFSA. To be considered for federal grants, you only need to fill out your FAFSA. When your FAFSA information is processed, you will be notified if you are eligible for federal grants. Learn more about federal grants and see the list of awards available.
Unlike federal grants or scholarships, student loans (from either the federal government or private companies) are to be repaid. The amount of student loans you are eligible to receive is based, like all things financial, on the information you provide in your FAFSA.
It is important to only take out loans for what you think you will need, and no more. If you have questions about applying for or accepting student loans, please reach out to the Financial Wellness Center and learn more from a financial wellness coach. Prospective students and families are welcome.
You do not pay back student loans while you are a student. Instead, you begin paying for them roughly about six months after the final term you are in school.
Finding out how you are going to pay for college can be a complicated process, but there is a network of support at PSU. Through the Office of Financial Aid and Financial Wellness Center, there are always professionals excited to help you navigate the cost of college.
So feel free to drop by and introduce yourself or shoot us an email. No question is too small, and we want you to succeed.