• Paying for College 101

    Are you heading to a 4-year college, community college, or vocational school? If so, you may want to look into all of the different ways that you can get aid to help pay for your school. Here is a general overview:


    1-Grants: Money given to students that they do not have to pay back based on financial need. 

    2-Scholarships: Money given to students that they do not have to pay back based on academic and/or extracurricular merit. 

    3-Loans: Money given that is paid back. Education loans given by the federal government are usually at lower interest rates. 

      FAFSA Link: This is the Federal Application for Student Aid. All students should plan to complete the FAFSA if they are continuing their education after high school. For the 2023/24 school year, the FAFSA application opens in December. This application is the basis for financial need based grants and loans.  DO NOT COMPLETE the FAFSA before that time. In order to sign in, both student and parent(s) must have an FSAID.  An FSA ID is a username and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.  FSAID Link



    Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or after October 1, 2020.  Many colleges have priority deadlines for scholarships and require that the FAFSA be submitted before then.  Please check the financial aid page of colleges you are applying to determine that date.  For instance, the University of Oregon's priority filing date is March 1, 2021.


    What happens after you fill out the FAFSA? 

    Types of Aid (w/links)



    The Oregon Promise Grant OPEN OCTOBER and The Oregon Opportunity Grant are financial need-based grants for students planning to go to a 2 or 4 year college after graduation. It is recommended that all seniors apply for the Oregon Promise Grant (2 year college), even as a “just in case”.

    Local Level Scholarships: OPENS JANUARY. Hood River Education Foundation Scholarships. Your community is awesome and wants to support you! These scholarships only require a single application. Vocational, 2 year, and 4 year students are eligible.


    CGCC Gorge Scholars : If you plan to attend CGCC, check out this generous scholarship and see if you are elligible to apply!

    School-based grants: These grants are offered by your school after they receive your FAFSA information. They are need-based and dependent on available funds. You will know if you receive this grant in your Financial Aid Award offer, usually in the spring. It is a good idea to visit your school’s financial aid site to see if there are any application deadlines in order to be considered.

    State Level Scholarships: OPENS NOV. The State of Oregon also has just a single application for you to apply to numerous scholarships at the state level. Vocational, 2 year, and 4 year students are eligible. 

    Federally-based grants: These grants are awarded by the federal government. Some may have outside applications or eligibility requirements while others you automatically qualify for after completing your FAFSA. These are NOT just for 4 year college applicants, so vocational students should also review these.

    Federal Level Scholarships

    Fill out the form at the above link to get a list of scholarships and application links to monthly scholarships. The November newsletter has a CommonApp scholarship, a science-based scholarship, and many volunteer-based scholarships. Each Scholarship will have individual applications and due dates.

    Oregon State Grants: There are grants that have separate applications. Please visit the site to review and apply for those you're eligible for.

    Additional Common Scholarships for Oregon Students

    Ford Family Foundation Scholarships

    The Gates Scholarship

    Hood River Rotary Scholarship

    Renaissance Scholarship

    Questbridge Scholarship




    Direct Subsidized Loans

    Loan based on student need--must complete FAFSA to be eligible.

    Direct Unsubsidized Loans

    Loans not based on need. Families still must complete the FAFSA to be eligible.

    Direct PLUS Loans

    Fixed rate loans for students AND parents of dependent students. Must complete FAFSA to be eligible.

    Federal Consolidation Loans: 

    Comparing Financial Aid Awards

    After you receive your financial aid package from the schools you have been accepted to, how do you compare financial aid awards? Comparing your financial aid offers can be complicated, especially if your awards vary in the type and amount of aid given. The site here: Compare Your Aid Awards gives great advice on how to analyze your awards packages.

    Type of Aid

    Look at the "% of Award that is Gift Aid" and "% of Award that is Loan" figures. This information tells you about the quality of your award.

    The higher the proportion of Gift Aid (grants or scholarships) to Loan (money that has to be paid back), the better the award. Get an explanation of your financial aid award.

    Family Share of Costs

    Look at the "Family Share of Costs" figure. This is the amount of money your family is expected to contribute.

    If you don't think you can afford the family share for a college you are interested in attending, contact the financial aid office to explain your concern and to discuss your options. If you receive a revised award, enter the new data into the tool.

    Review Each Aid Offer Carefully

    The college that gives you the most aid may not have the best overall offer. Your aid amount may be higher because the costs are higher, because some costs are not included (such as room and board) or because the award is mostly loan-based.

    Remember also that the college with the best financial aid offer may not be the best one for you. Choosing a college involves selecting a college that’s a good fit, based on your goals.

    Schedule a meeting if you want help reviewing ways to pay for college or to review your aid award packages! 

    Schedule a meeting with me here: Link