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Information Technology
New Gloucester ME

Enabling my Education

Josh Vickerson on Thursday, 03 January 2013. Posted in Financial Aid

It's no secret the cost of higher education is bordering on ridiculous (and only rising). Indeed, RIT is among the more expensive schools in the country which leaves many students wondering: Is it worth it? Comparing the cost to in-state schools only makes answering that with an affermative even more difficult.

Plenty of data points out a solid education is well worth the investment, though. Career One Stop reports that a 2011 study found those with a bachelor's degree earned a median salary of $1,053 a week, versus $638 a week with a high school diploma. While this doesn't make the $43,000/yr. bill easier to swallow now, it's encouragement to persue an education in the first place.

Fortunately for many individuals, including myself, help with the bill does exist. It all starts with this nifty little thing known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, colloquially called "the FAFSA". It's a magical application that has the potential to earn you big bucks.

For me, the 45 minutes it took to apply guaranteed me thousands in student loans backed by the government, whose interest rates are lower than those offered by private lenders. I also qualified for thousands more in federal grants; who doesn't love free money?

Most importantly, though, RIT used the information provided by the FAFSA to determine what grants they offer that I am qualified to receive. And they handed me many thousands in free money as a result. The FAFSA is the only thing that enabled me to afford an incredible school like RIT.

Not everyone qualifies for such large grants, I know. But those who need the help can get it. All it takes is the hour or so required to fill out the FAFSA. Once you've done that, the government and other interested bodies essentially enter "Shut Up and Take My Money" mode.

Amounts will vary by need, but you'd be foolish to not even apply. So what are you waiting for? I'm even giving you this nifty link to the application site. You're welcome.