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Financial aid is money to help pay for college. Scholarships and student loans tend to be well-known, and there are different criteria to qualify for a variety of types. To determine if you qualify for grants, work-study, and federal student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some scholarships are also based on FAFSA results.

There are a variety of reasons you might not qualify for federal financial aid. These include:

  • You didn’t file the FAFSA. This application is used by the government, as well as many scholarship and loan providers to determine financial aid eligibility.
  • You have a serious criminal conviction.
  • You didn’t register with the selective service (if you’re a male between the ages of 18 to 25).
  • You’re not a US citizen or permanent resident.
  • You don’t have a diploma or GED.

But just because you don’t qualify for federal financial aid doesn’t mean you can’t go to college!

Juan paid for college with scholarships and using money saved from working. “As I high school senior, I received the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation scholarship, which paid my tuition. I knew I wanted to live in the dorm rooms my first year, but it was an extra expense of $8,000.” Juan worked two summer jobs: construction during the week, and at a hotel on the weekends. Juan also received a couple of scholarships during college because of his grades.

Isabella put all her focus on scholarships. Isabella is not a citizen, so she had to check which scholarships she qualified for. “Thankfully, due to my grades, volunteer involvement, and personal background, I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and other local-based scholarships to help pay.” She also utilized EducationQuest’s free services to guide her through the process.

If you don’t qualify for financial aid, don’t fret! Take action like Juan and Isabella:

  • Search for and apply for scholarships. There are many sources to help you find scholarships. Consider creating a ScholarshipQuest profile for Nebraska-based scholarships.
  • Get a part-time job and save as much as you can!
  • Talk to your college’s business office about a payment plan. You may be able to make several payments over the course of the school year.
  • Cut college costs: live at home instead of on campus, or attend a less costly institution.
  • If necessary, explore a private loan. But be careful: these typically have higher fees and interest rates. Compare lenders and consider the best option for you.

By Kristin Ageton