Surveys have shown the vast majority of college students hold down some sort of job while they attend college. During the 2003-04 school year, 78 percent of students in the U.S. had a job. Don't think as a full-time student that you're automatically exempt; a study by the American Council on Education found that this high percentage held regardless of enrollment status and as much as one-quarter of full-time students also have a full-time job [source: ACE].
The federal government offers a type of financial aid designed around student employment called the Federal Work-Study program. This program offers on-campus jobs that pay at least minimum wage to enrolled students. The program keeps the hours light as well; students usually work about 15 hours a week. Studies have found that students who work this weekly amount are likelier to graduate and get better grades than kids who work more or none at all [source: ACE]. What's more, the point of Work-Study is to assist students based on financial aid, so the income made from the on-campus job doesn't count when figuring the formula for student of family income levels.
Tax credits are a type of retroactive financial aid for families of students. In the 2009 tax year, a family with an adjusted gross income of less than $65,000 could claim a $4,000 deduction on their income taxes for college tuition and fees [source: Smart Money]. There are some strings attached, however. The full deduction applies to all students in a household, not each. And the family can't also take advantage of another federal break, the Hope Scholarship (not to be confused with Georgia's version, mentioned earlier), which gives a tax credit of up to $1,500 annually for the first two years of school [source: Ed.gov].
Savings plans dedicated to accruing money for college tuition also constitute a type of financial aid. Two popular varieties are the state-based 529 plans and the federal Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESA). These are attractive ways to save for college, because the interest on their growth isn't taxed when the money is withdrawn to pay for college tuition and fees. Both also allow the funds to be transferred if the student for whom the account was originally opened doesn't attend college [source: State Farm].
Clearly there's a lot to be taken into consideration when looking at financial aid for full-time students. We hope to help you out a little more with the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Council on Education. "Working their way through college: student employment and its impact on the college experience." May 2006. http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=1618
- Andrus, Eryn. "What is the history of Sallie Mae?" Whalehook Loans. Accessed January 8, 2010. http://whalehookloans.com/2007/09/25/what-is-the-history-of-sallie-mae/
- Clark, Kim. "Financial aid 101." U.S. News and World Report. April 10, 2008. http://www.usnews.com/education/paying-for-college/articles/2008/04/10/financial-aid-101.html
- Ed.gov. "Federal Perkins Loans - introduction." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://ifap.ed.gov/sfahandbooks/attachments/0304Vol5Intro.pdf
- Ed.gov. "Pell Grants - eligibility." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://ifap.ed.gov/sfahandbooks/attachments/0304Vol3Ch1.pdf
- Ed.gov. "PLUS loans." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/parentloans.jsp
- Ed.gov. "Stafford Loans." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/studentloans.jsp
- Ed.gov. "The HOPE Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credits." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/PPI/HOPE/index.html
- FinAid! "Private student loans." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.finaid.org/loans/privatestudentloans.phtml
- GA College 411. "Maintaining eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.gacollege411.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/HOPE_Program/Maintaining_Eligibility_for_the_HOPE_Scholarship.aspx
- Onink, Tony. "Billions in merit aid up for grabs." Forbes. March 10, 2009. http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/10/college-admissions-wait-list-sats-personal-finance-retirement-merit-aid.html
- Onink, Tony. "The financial aid game." Forbes. March 10, 2009. http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/10/college-fafsa-profile-personal-finance-retirement-financial-aid.html
- Sallie Mae. "About us." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.salliemae.com/about/
- Smart Money. "The college tax breaks explained." January 22, 2009. http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/college-planning/the-college-tax-breaks-explained-9644/
- State Farm Insurance. "Coverdell Education Savings Accounts or state 529 plan: Which is right for you?" Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.statefarm.com/mutual/sc/invest_know/cover529.asp
- Student Loan Network. "Federal student loans overview." Accessed January 8, 2010. http://www.studentloannetwork.com/federal-student-loans/