Lesson 7: Paying for College and Completing the FAFSA As a Student Who Is Blind or Low Vision

Key Considerations

Sometimes students who are blind or low vision assume attending college or career school is not an affordable option. The reality is there are many resources available to assist you with the costs. In fact, many students do not actually pay the published sticker price for tuition and fees and often combine various funding sources to pay for furthering their education.

Some of the free resources available to assist you with the costs of attending college include scholarships, financial aid, and government grants. Aid is also available through a work-study program, which provides part-time employment for students who are enrolled in school to help pay for the costs of their education. Many students who apply for financial aid often qualify for and receive it. According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid, students could be eligible for up to $6,895 in Pell Grants to help pay for college expenses. Many state vocational rehabilitation agencies often have funds for tuition, books, supplies, and transportation for students who are blind or low vision. Other alternatives for paying for your tuition include working a part-time job to earn money or borrowing money you will pay back with interest such as a student loan.

You should have an organized and informed plan to pay for the costs associated with furthering your education or training. Otherwise, you could miss out on an opportunity to be awarded free money towards your tuition, or you could end up with a significant amount of debt after you graduate. Overall, don’t be discouraged by the cost to attend college or career school until you know how much financial aid or additional monetary assistance may be available to you.

If you are interested in financial aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application can be submitted online, or a paper form may be requested. A PDF application is also available for you to print and fill out manually, or the data can be entered on an accessible form before printing it out. Each year, there are federal, state, and college deadlines established for submitting the application, so it will be to your benefit to be aware of and meet the deadlines.

Assignment

Research online or meet with your school’s guidance counselor to answer the following questions.
The U.S. Department of Education provides information about grants, loans, work-study, and tax credits for education and how to apply for them. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information.

  1. Are you eligible to apply for federal student aid?
  2. How will you apply for federal student aid?
  3. When should you complete the FAFSA?
  4. Why should you apply as soon as possible?
  5. Will you need to apply for financial aid every year?
  6. What information will you report on the FAFSA?
  7. What happens after you submit the FAFSA?
  8. When do you find out your award?
  9. What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?
  10. What factors go into how much money you will get?
  11. What is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
  12. Who determines how much financial aid you are eligible to receive?
  13. Should you accept all of the aid you are offered?
  14. What is a good approach to accepting the money you are offered?
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