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Breaking Down the Different Types of Financial Aid for Undergraduate Students


Categories: How To, Incoming Students

Read time: 5 minutes

Determining the financial aid that makes sense for you

There are plenty of options for covering tuition costs, housing, and any school supplies you may need. This article breaks down the differences in aid and covers how to determine which is best for you.

The costs associated with earning a degree

There are a lot of things to think about when you decide to go to college. How much is your yearly tuition cost? What will your housing costs look like? What kind of supplies or equipment do you need for classes? All of these things add to your total cost of attendance.

After applying and submitting your FAFSA to your school of choice, they should be able to break down your total cost of attendance, as well as the kind of aid you’ve been awarded. Most schools have a page on their website that can give you an estimate on how much your tuition would be. There should also be a webpage that tells you what kind of aid they offer. Concordia St. Paul has a net price calculator tool that can be very helpful in determining your cost of attendance!

Using scholarships and grants

Many people will tell you that scholarships and grants are the best type of aid to use. This is because you don’t have to pay back any money given through a scholarship or grant. It’s basically free money!

Depending on the state you live in, there are different types of grants available. The federal government also gives out grants based on income and financial needs. For example, students living and attending college in Minnesota may be eligible for both the MN State Grant, as well as the Federal Pell Grant. Your eligibility is determined by filling out a FAFSA form, so make sure you don’t skip that step. If you’re applying to Concordia University, St. Paul, enter school code: 002347.

Scholarships are available in a variety of ways. The schools you’re interested in might all have different scholarship opportunities based on academic merit, financial need, and extracurriculars like athletics and the arts. Concordia St. Paul has scholarships available for a variety of students.

Be sure to look at local organizations or companies in your community that offer students financial help. Many places offer one time scholarships to the local community members. There are also websites that compile lists of scholarships along with their eligibility requirements. Some may have application fees and additional requirements, like an essay on a specific topic.

Taking out federal and private student loans

After you’ve determined what kinds of grants and scholarships you might be eligible for, you can figure out how much of your cost you have left to cover. If you don’t have the financial ability to pay out of pocket, you may need to take out student loans.

If used responsibly, student loans are an incredible tool that allows students to attend college and earn a degree. However, there are a few things to be aware of when taking out loans. Students can decide to take out federal loans offered through FAFSA, or find a private lender to borrow from. Remember, loans will need to be paid back and often accrue interest, so learn the difference between loan types and lenders to figure out what’s best for you.

The US government offers two different loan types to students; direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans. The difference between the two has to do with the interest associated with the loan. An unsubsidized loan accrues interest from the moment the funds are distributed, even while you’re in school. Meanwhile, a subsidized loan does not accrue interest while you are still in school, or during your grace period after graduation. For both loan types, students are not required to make payments while still in school.

If you don’t want to take out loans through the government, most credit lenders and banks have student loan programs. Private student loans give borrowers a chance to “shop around” for interest rates, payback periods, and benefits tied to bank accounts. The rules and regulations around private student loans can vary greatly from federal loans, so be sure to read through all of the fine print of your private student loans!

Managing student debt after college

Graduating with a degree is such a great achievement, but the cloud of student debt can damper the occasion if you don’t have a plan to tackle it head on. Students get a small “grace period” after graduation before they’re required to start making monthly payments.

A good way to get ahead of your student debt is by making monthly interest payments while you’re in school. Preventing too much interest from being added to your principal amount will help keep your monthly payments lower after graduation. Factoring student loan payments into your budget is another great way to stay on top of your loans without them seeming too scary. Remember, you won’t be penalized for making early or larger payments than what is due each month!


Concordia University, St. Paul is one of the top private universities in the midwest, with more than 100 degree programs available from undergraduate through doctoral studies, all while being the lowest-cost private college in the Twin Cities. 95% of recent CSP graduates are employed or in graduate school within one year and earn 11% more than the national average. Connect with CSP by filling out the form below.

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