Considering the price of education, it’s understandable that many people choose not to go to college. But, not getting a higher degree might cost you a lot more than the money you’d pay for it. It’s always beneficial for a country to have more educated people since it helps raise the average national skill level. This is why students should pay attention to grants, as they provide a way over the financial obstacles and into a better future.
Why should you pursue education?
Getting a degree has recently become a step people take to be able to get a job. While many jobs and careers do need a degree to qualify for them, the benefits of education are much higher than that.
Personal skills learned through formal education
There are many ways education can help you improve as a person. Before looking at the financial benefits of going to school, we should first look at how education can change you as an individual. The simple acts of chatting with your friends or answering a teacher’s questions have way more benefits than you could think.
Whether you choose to study business, engineering, or political science, the main benefit of your education is learning how to learn. See, when a person goes to classes, takes tests, and does homework, it’s not just for the grades. The process teaches us how to take in information and be able to express and use it. For example, when you study math in elementary school, your test grades won’t affect your long-term career. Those math classes, on the other hand, will help you develop the ability to break down numbers and compute them.
Communication during school is probably one of the most underestimated gains of education. Learning how to ask and answer questions, how to discuss ideas, and how to collaborate on projects while also presenting the information you’ve learned. All these actions will be repeated almost in the same way during your career. Humans are social animals, so if you sharpen your communication skills, you won’t just push your career forward, but you’ll have a better chance at improving your overall life.
Okay, so you might think that chatting with your friends is just for fun. You might also think that making new friends is something we do to just have a good time. But, if you look closely, you’ll find a lot more to it. Socializing isn’t just based on fun. Understanding people’s psychology, learning how to listen, and showing leadership skills all play a part in our social experience in school. If you look at extroverted students, you’ll often find they end up having exciting experiences (whether good or bad). But, that’s because the more we socialize, the more opportunities we open up for ourselves by communicating with others.
Finding Your Passion
In the average educational experience, students get the chance to learn about many topics. Whether it’s technical subjects like math or biology, or theoretical sciences such as languages, students even get the chance to try extra-curricular activities such as sports or dancing. Since every person is born with a different way of thinking, it’s important to try a bit of everything. This way, students will have the chance to explore what they’re good at and what they naturally struggle with.
Education Helps Develop Critical Thinking
This part is the most interesting one. During class, we spend time listening to teachers and receiving information directly. However, when we discuss ideas with friends or even express our opinions to our teachers, we find ourselves thinking in our own unique ways. Take math, for example. To multiply 5 by 8, some students will add the number 8 to itself five times to get to 40. Other students might remember that 4×8 = 32, then they’ll realize that if they add 8 one more time, they’ll get the same result. While this may seem unimportant to some, it’s quite important. Because when you think of these two people as scientists in the future, they can both look at a much bigger problem from two different angles. And that is how innovation happens.
Financial Gains From Education
Considering the time, money, and effort you’ll put into your education, you should expect to make extra money because of it. On average, people holding bachelor’s degrees make 75% more money during their lifetimes than people with high school diplomas. But, how does that work?
Career Benefits of Education
Employers will often hire people with higher degrees. Not just because it means they’re smarter, but because it means that they’re willing to put the time and effort into learning skills. Furthermore, the higher a person’s degree, the more disciplined they are likely to be in their craft. When it comes to white-collar jobs, employers want to hire people who already have the knowledge required for the position. While many job opportunities don’t require a bachelor’s degree, many do.
What Kind of Educational Grants Can I Get?
The federal government, along with the Department of Education, has created different grants to help students of different backgrounds. The kind of grant you apply for depends on your financial situation, family background, and the effort you’re willing to put in.
This is the most popular grant for students in the US. The Pell grant is designed to help students struggling to finance their higher education. A student could receive up to $7,395 per academic year through the Pell grant.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for the Pell Grant?
After applying for the grant, the deciding committee will look at 2 criteria: your expected family contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance (COA). In simple words, your family’s EFC is what your family owns, pays in taxes, and receives in benefits. COA is the cost of education at the school you’re applying to.
FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant)
FSEOG is a grant created to help out students struggling financially. However, what sets it apart from the Pell grant is that it is specific to certain schools that participate in the FSEOG program.
There are two things to know about this grant:
First, through FSEOG, a student can receive anywhere between $100 and $4,000 in aid per academic year, depending on their educational fees. Second, this grant is through a limited fund assigned to each school participating in the program. That means the funds will be given to students who show the greatest need for financial aid. If the funds run out, no other students will be able to receive the grant in that year from that school.
TEACH Grant (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education)
When we mentioned earlier that there are grants that require effort to be put in, we meant this one. TEACH is a special grant that can grant qualifying applicants up to $4,000 per academic year. To qualify for TEACH, qualifying applicants must teach in elementary and secondary schools for 4 years. Those 4 years have to be within the years the student spends studying in college. Finally, you must be an undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate student enrolled in a school that is part of the TEACH program.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
This type of grant completely depends on your family background. As a way of showing appreciation to the brave men and women who lost their lives during their service with the US military, this grant was created to help their families afford to go to college.
In terms of this grant:
- Must be ineligible to receive the Pell grant due to your EFC, but meet all other requirements.
- This grant applies only to those whose parent/guardian died in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11 2001.
- Applicants must have been 24 years old or younger when their parents or guardians lost their lives.
How To Apply For These Educational Grants
All of the educational grants mentioned above start with the same step. That step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Through FAFSA, the Department of Education will determine how much financial aid the student requires. Also, FAFSA will help the Department of Education decide whether the student is eligible for the grant or not. One important thing to keep in mind is that students must fill out FAFSA every academic year. Students who fail to fill out FAFSA in any given academic year might risk losing their grant.
Higher education in the US comes with a high price tag. Not only do students worry about paying for it, but parents also always have education fees as a high priority to save money for. If a student is not able to financially afford college and also cannot qualify for the grants mentioned above, there are still other options he/she can explore.
The Federal Work-study Program
As the name suggests, this program enables students to get paid jobs while studying. This program helps students make extra money to pay for school and/or any other expenses. At the same time, the program helps students gain experience while studying, making them more qualified by the time they graduate.
What to know about this program
First, only undergraduate or graduate students may apply for this program. Second, students under this program may only work part-time jobs. Third, jobs under the federal work-study program will often be in the same field as the student is studying. However, the program is focused on developing civic education. Wages under this program can vary according to the stage of education the student is in and whether their job requires high technical skills.
Students Can Get Tax Breaks
The federal government considers the financial investments students must put into their education. The government also considers the fact that students can’t work full-time jobs, whether because of a lack of free time or qualification. That’s why the federal government created tax benefit programs to help them get some of that money back.
Under these tax benefit programs, students may claim tax breaks on books, tuition fees, supplies, and equipment required for education.
The American Opportunity Credit allows students to claim up to $2,500 in tax credits annually for the first 4 years of school.
The Lifetime Learning Credit allows students to claim up to $2,000 for any year they spend on education.
While higher education can be expensive, there are many federal programs out there to help students out. That help can come in the form of grants, work opportunities, or tax benefit programs. Make sure to research your options well and try to apply as soon as you can.