Applying to College for Low Income Students

If you’re a low income student, college is FOR YOU. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t go for any reason and especially because it’s expensive. YOU can go, you can get money for college and on this page we will talk about ways to make it happen.

Nothing is different for you about the process, but here are a few tips to make things less stressful and go more smoothly for you applying to college as a low income student.

Consider Financial Aid Commitments When Deciding Where to Apply

All colleges have their costs on their website. If you are applying to college as a low income student what is MORE important is to understand their commitment to meeting admitted students financial need.

If a college is committed to meeting a student’s full financial need, they will make it clear on their website that they do this. You can also ask them! This is especially important with private four year colleges whose financial aid policies can be confusing. Never hesitate to contact them with questions you have.

Consider applying to at least one public four year college in your state and understand their financial aid policies as well. In Washington State, the Washington College Grant commits to covering tuition costs at public universities in Washington for low income students. The College Bound Scholarship, which you sign up for in middle school, makes this commitment as well. The College Bound Scholarship also includes a small book allowance.

Even if your colleges don’t commit to covering the full amount of students need, you should still apply, especially if you commit yourself to the next step, applying for scholarships.

Apply for Lots of Scholarships

See this article for more advice on finding scholarships that you have a good chance of winning. In addition, make sure to apply to quite a few, which increase your changes of winning some!

When you apply for FAFSA or WASFA (see below) you will be eligible for money for college but you might have some holes that aren’t covered (such as living in the dorms, transportation and books or supplies). Scholarship funds can be used for these expenses too!

Applying for scholarships is the best way to avoid having to borrow money for college, or if you do borrow, borrowing less.

Apply for Financial Aid with FAFSA or WASFA

Make sure to apply for government aid through the FAFSA or WASFA. Check out this article for more information about each application and who should do which one. These applications determine your eligibility for government money for college as well as the college’s own funds.

Request Fee Waivers

There are lots of costs in the college admissions process that can really add up before you’ve even gotten to college! Fortunately, you can get a fee waiver for college application fees and testing so you don’t have to pay all those costs.

SAT and ACT Fee Waivers

Talk with your school counselor to get fee waviers for the SAT and ACT college admissions tests as well as AP tests or any other standardized tests you are planning to take.

Fee waivers for the SAT and ACT also cover the cost of sending your scores to colleges as long as you do that when you register.

College Application Fee Waivers

Your school counselor can also give you fee waivers for college application fees. Some colleges will also give it to you directly within their application. Applying to college as a low income student is much easier with fee waivers and you can apply to as many colleges as you like without having to worry about the costs of applying.

By Jennie Flaming