Category Archives: Financial Aid

Tips and advice on financial aid.

Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

Do you know a high-performing Missouri State-West Plains student looking to transfer to a four-year institution? Does he or she have financial need? If so, please encourage him or her to apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides up to $40,000 annually to community college students and recent alumni who will pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. The application is now open and will close December 2. For more information, visit:

Financial Literacy

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is defined as:

  1. The ability to read, analyze, manage and communicate about the personal financial conditions affecting material well being.
  2. The term is used to describe financial education programs on college campuses and within high schools. The objective of financial literacy programs is to help students better manage their finances,budget effectively, and borrow wisely.

Smart financial management includes a few basic good habits. If you are a student, you may already have a checking account, a credit card, or maybe even a car loan. When heading off to college, you may also need to borrow student loans to help finance your education. But have you determined your financial goals and established good financial habits? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Steps you can take now to get on the right financial path

  • Take charge of your spending. Establish a budgetPDF Document; set limits and prioritize; determine the difference between needs and wants; speak with a professional, nonprofit credit counselor if needed.
  • Start saving. The earlier you save, the more you’ll have.
  • Understand the costs of credit. Compare at least three offers before you choose a credit card; look for low interest rates and no annual fees; always pay more than the minimum payment.
  • Understand how credit use affects your future. Know the difference between good and bad debt; check your credit report annually.
  • Protect your credit and your financial future. Beware of identity theft; review statements and notify creditors immediately of errors; know what’s in your wallet/purse.

Planning for Financial Success

Minimize your student loan debt by following these Top 10 ways to graduate debt free.

  1. Complete the FAFSA annually.
  2. Qualify for federal grants.
  3. Research state scholarship and grant programs.
  4. Apply for institutional scholarships.
  5. Explore private scholarships.
  6. Inquire about work programs available on your campus.
  7. Set up a payment plan for your tuition.
  8. Secure summer employment.
  9. Invest in MOST, Missouri’s 529 college savings plan.
  10. Live like a student now, so you don’t have to later.


Scholarship Information

Scholarship Search Tips

In these tough economic times, many families may need additional money to help pay for college. Federal and state financial aid programs may not be enough. Seeking and applying for private scholarships from non-profit foundations and other organizations may provide the extra help needed. Here are some suggestions about how to find legitimate scholarships.

  • “Like” the MDHE’s Facebook page, Journey to College. The MDHE is often notified when new private scholarships are available or when a scholarships’ application period opens, and this information is added immediately to Journey to College.
  • Follow the MDHE’s tweets via Twitter, and have these communications sent to your cell phone. The MDHE communicates scholarship information as well as other resources for students and their families.
  • Ask businesses, community groups, schools, and religious and civic organizations in your local community or state about scholarship opportunities.
  • Check your local library for scholarship books.
  • Keep looking! The more you search, the greater your chances of finding additional programs.

Keep the following tips in mind when using the Internet or a scholarship search organization:

  • Be cautious of scholarship scams. Contact the Federal Trade Commission for more information.
  • Do not provide credit card information to use a free scholarship search.
  • Read the fine print carefully. Many online financial assistance search services request information about you so they can find financial assistance programs for which you may be eligible. Some of these companies may send you information about other services that they provide or sell your information to another company.

FAFSA Toolkit

FAFSA Toolkit:

Join the club. File the FAFSA

This toolkit is designed to assist you in providing information on completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

With the click of a mouse or a quick “cut and paste,” you can have your own FAFSA campaign, provided by PHEAA.

From print ads to web banners, our tools help schools and community partners increase FAFSA awareness.

How to Download: To download, right-click (control-click on Mac) and select “Save Target As…” from the pop-up menu.

Funding for School

State Grant Program

If you’re an eligible Pennsylvania resident, apply for a Pennsylvania State Grant to get help with the cost of higher education.


Other Educational Aid

  • Explore the other aid programs available that provide funding for higher education.
  • Work-Study Employment

    Gain career-related, on-the-job work experience while earning money to help pay for your higher education.

  • PA-TIP

    Explore aid that helps strengthen the state’s workforce and makes higher education more affordable with the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP).

  • Aid for Military & PA National Guard

    Service to our country may qualify you or your dependents for financial aid when you pursue higher education.

  • Loan Forgiveness

    Find out if you are eligible for loan forgiveness, which repays part or all of your educational loan debt if you fulfill certain work-related requirements in specific fields.

Financial Aid

5 Steps to Financial Aid

Step 1. Look for “free” money first.

Try to get “free” financial aid first. Free financial aid is the type of aid that you do not need to repay.

Unfortunately, free financial aid usually doesn’t cover 100% of your costs. And you may need to find other ways to pay for college, including taking out low-cost loans and using any money you may have saved. Alternative sources are also an option but use them only as a last resort. Take time to understand all the ways you can pay for college.

If you include more than one college on your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you will receive one financial aid award letter (award offer) from each of those schools. These offers will likely contain a combination of free aid and low-cost loans. Evaluate each school’s financial aid offer carefully.

Ways to Pay for College
Free aid
  • You do not need to repay free aid, as long as you meet all of the obligations.
  • Free aid includes scholarships and grants.
  • Sources of free aid include the federal government, your state, your school, your employer, your community, religious organizations, and others.

Note: Be aware that in some cases, a grant may convert to a loan if certain obligations are not met.

Work-study or other employment
  • You can help pay for your education by working part- or full-time while you attend school.
  • Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs in which they give money toward your education.
Low-cost loans
  • These loans offer reduced interest rates, various repayment options, and no prepayment penalties.
  • The primary source is the federal government, which offers loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents.
  • Your school may offer institutional loans and flexible tuition payment plans.
  • You can always use money you already have to pay for school.
  • Sources include savings accounts, 529 plans, pre-paid tuition plans, or other savings programs.
Alternative sources
  • Private education loans can fill any gaps in funding after you have exhausted other aid types.
  • You may be able to use home equity loans and lines of credit depending on your situation.
  • Avoid cashing out insurance policies or retirement funds or using high-interest advances on credit cards. These sources are almost NEVER a good idea.


How to Pay for College – Scholarships, Loans, Financial Aid & the FAFSA

picture of paper moneyThere are many types of student financial aid for college, including scholarships, grants, loans and work-study and it can be earned at the federal, state or institution level. For more information on college costs and financial aid, check out the links and articles below.