how to pay for college if financial aid doesn't cover everything

I am transferring from an CC to a 4 year university (Nicholls State University or Louisiana Tech). At My CC, my pell grants covered everything and I know that will not be the case for when I transfer, I know I will have to use the subsidized and UN-subsizied loans. But what if that is not enough? I am 24 yrs old, and a first generation college student, so I am figuring things out as I go. I know I get the Maximum financial aid, when I logged in to Nicholls financial aid, they had a break down telling me that I will receive $9,848.00(pell grants and loans) per semester, for a total of $19,685.00. The problem that I see is that it says coat of total attendance is $24,428.00 and it says that I have a need of $4,733.00. I emailed and asked them what does need of $4,733.00, they reply with this “The Cost of Attendance aka the Budget is an estimated amount set by the federal government. This tells us that the amount of Federal aid offered in loans and grants can not exceed this amount. The Need would be the amount left after Budget, EFC and Aid Awarded are figured. These are what we call “Office Numbers”. They are not actual costs. The cost for tuition and fees, housing, etc for the Fall 2019 semester have not been released yet. We anticipate this to be available sometime in July.” This doesn’t help me with my anxiety because what if the price of tuition goes up? Also my family can’t help me pay for college, and even if I get a job, I will never be able to pay off the balance before semester ends (they won’t let you register for classes if you owe a balance). I would like to have a plan in place incase my aid packages doesn’t cover everything. Do I get a 3rd party loan? I will do not know if I will receive a scholarship until my they get my final transcript (which is in a couple of days). I will have to live on campus or get an off campus apartment because I do not live close to any of these colleges. any tips or advice is welcomed. thanks.

You need to get a job, take out an additional private loan with a co-signer, or something.

If the cost of attendance is $25,000…you would get $6500 Direct Loan plus an additional $4000 Direct Loan because you are independent for financial aid purposes. So that’s $10,500. Plus the $6095 Pell Grant. So now you have $16595 in aid…or so. (Maybe you didn’t get the full Pell).

So you need to find $8000 or so more to cover your costs to attend.

If you’re 24 your loans might be $12k/year instead of the normal $7500/year for dependent students. The maximum Pell Grant is ~$6k (again, per YEAR not semester) which gives you about $19k for the year. If costs stay at $24,428 then the amount you have to come up with is $4733. That’s ~$2500/semester. If you choose the least expensive dorm and meal plan you might be able to reduce the amount you have to pay.

Can you work this summer to raise any of it? Your options are really working to make up the difference or commuting to the local college you mentioned in your other thread. Is the Univ of Louisiana at Layfayette within commuting distance? If so, will Pell and the federal student loan cover tuition there?

If that’s the cost of attendance the school gave you, that probably includes a dollar amount for books. May even include travel to/ from school. You will need to look at the break down for classes, room, board and go from there Don’t be scared to call and speak with someone directly, explain that you a first gen student and need help reading each line

How much in loans did you get? Are you living on campus and the amounts you quoted cover living expenses? Or are you commuting and have living expenses that also have to be paid? How much of your aid is in loans? How much Pell did you get?

You’ll need to pay about half that $4733 if that is shone year cost, before starting class. If you haven’t used up all of what you can borrow, your loan could cover that first semester cost. It would be beneficial, however, to be able to pay a chunk of that out of earnings rather than borrowing

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) does not have the major I want, they have something close to my major but i spoke to my advisor over there and only 13 classes (which is 30 credits). I’ll have an associates degree (which is 60 credits) so it wouldn’t make sense to go there and be a freshman again, when i could transfer somewhere that has my major and be a junior. The only way I could go to ULL and be a junior is to major in business (which is what i was going to do, but i do not want to be do that anymore). or I could just major in business (something my heart isn’t in it anymore) and minor in business informatics (the major that is closes to computer information systems) but it would take longer for me to graduate (it adds at least an extra year and a half to two years), or just transfer to somewhere that have my major and graduate in two years.

they told me the price of tutition could go up or down in July. So they can’t help me until then. I would like a back up plan incase I actually might have to come out of pocket. and unless a job understands that school comes first and actually works with my schedule then I can work but not a lot. I flunked out of school before because i couldn’t balance work and school. and if I get a work study job, I"ll never pay off the $4733 or 2500 a semester on working 15-20 hrs a week and making $7.25 hr.

Look at the breakdown of what COA includes. Many kids can eat cheaper than is estimated. Many don’t have some of the incidental costs factored in. With a job, you can likely figure it out if the COA includes food/travel/incidental etc…you will need to live frugally.

You will have an associates degree in May? Perhaps get a job and go to school part time, with the job covering some of the costs via tuition reimbursement?

Yes, I am graduating this week from CC with a associates in business. Most jobs require you to stay with that company and major in something that’s beneficial to that company for tuition reimbursement. Or you have to work for that company for a certain amount of years to get it. The COA sheet they gave me said that for a student resident with tuition at 15 credit hours (I’m only going to take 12) and it includes housing (the cheapest dorms) and meal plan (cheapest plan) is $7,757 per semester. This does not include books, they estimate the cost of books being $600. However, it says at the bottom of the sheet that COA might change in June or July of this year. That’s why i’m confused and afraid I might not have enough.

Also does anyone know how financial aid is broken up with quarters instead of semesters? Like I know that for semesters it’s split in half (ex. $6,000 is split to $3,000 a semester), but with quarters is it spilt into three? And does financial aid give you more or less money?

Most all schools come out with their new costs around July, so this is not unusual. Yes, this is a crazy way things are done.

Yes, in the quarter system, everything is divided by 3 rather than 2. You should talk to the Bursars office at the school and go over exactly how it works there with deadlines and consequences. Do you get fined? Do they have payment scheduled and what are they and and the cost? Do you lose your courses if you are not paid in full by s certain date?

Giving us your award numbers and whether they are loans or grant would be useful. Are you commuting or living on campus?

Are you eligible for $12k in loans as an independent student? The loans in financial aid package may be what are subsidized and not include your non subsidized options which can give you breathing room

Since you can get out in 2 years with a degree and this is likely your least expensive option, making the 2 year course your primary goal would be your best option in terms of keeping expense down.

Your situation is not uncommon for those who finish CC, commuting from home and working, but now have to go away to college to get that Bachelors degree. It’s going to be pricey, and those loans may be the only way to make it work.


Could you clarify? It sounded to me like you already got the federally funded $12,000 in loans in your financial aid package. Is that correct? And that even with that, you were going to be short close to $5000…is that correct?

Do you have a part time job now? Can you work full time or two part time jobs in the summer? If so, you should be close to making the money you need to cover the shortfall.

I know you are worried about working and going to school…but working about 10 hours a week even at $7 a hour will net you about $200 a month…which also will help.

And yes…for schools on the quarter system, your aid will be split into three parts…one part for each quarter you attend. Your total aid amount won’t change because your school is on quarters, but the total for the year will be divided by 3…instead of 2 for semesters.

I think you can earn this shortfall…if you are working now, work during the summers full time, and work about 10 hours a week while in school.

Here’s a break down of my financial aid at Nicholls. This is the total for the Fall 19-Spring 20 semester:
Pell Grant $6,195.00
LA Go Grant $1,000
Subsided Stafford Loan $5,500.00
Unsubsidized Loans $7,000

total: $19,9695.00

I would have to live on campus because I have no family or friends in the area. I am not from the area so I do not know what neighborhoods to stay away from, it’s much easier just to live on campus. I can’t commute to campus because I live 1hr and 30-40 mins away (it’s 97 miles away). I prefer to go to Nicholls because it’s closer than LA Tech which is 3hrs away from home. But if they offer me a scholarship, I might have to change my decision because it might be cheaper (if i get a scholarship there). I am just waiting for my final transcript to be sent off and wait on their decision (at the earliest is 2 weeks after they get my transcript). I toured both colleges and like both, Nicholls is just close to home and better way of life, La Tech Campus is great, have more of a food selection, but the dorms are old and suck.

What is that last $7000 on your aid list…part of your loan amount?

Total loan…$7500 plus $4000 (extra for being an independent student), right?

What about the IT major at ULL? Is that similar to what you want?

ULL tuition is ~$10k/year. It seems like the Pell Grant + a part of the $11k/year loan would cover the costs. Could you commute there from home?

It’s going to be tight. You’ll need to come up with about $1500 before starting the first quarter and then earn another $1500 during the quarter to make it.

You can see if you have any loan availability from this LAST school year if you used Pell only—your FAFSA is in there, it may not be too late, to put towards this upcoming school year.

Otherwise, you have to find another source ofcfinds whether it is another lender a job or money from family.

If you can be flexible about your major, ULL may be a better choice.

Congratulations on your success! Earning an AA degree is a huge accomplishment. Especially as a person who has “flunked out” of school before, you know how hard you had to work, and the many choices and decisions that allowed you to succeed this time. Please give yourself credit for that—it is quite an accomplishment!

It’s possible that the two schools you are considering will have different costs associated, as well as different resources for classes, pre-professional groups, and internships in your desired major. If possible, you shouldn’t rule out either one because of distance from home. If you’re living on campus and attending school full-time, you won’t be going home so often that the hour or two should be the deciding factor. Look into what supports they have for first-generation college students; that’s an area that might differ at the two schools.

The numbers you’ve been given are reasonable estimates, but many of them will change—tuition may go up or down but probably not by a large amount. You may be able to live in a cheaper dorm (it might suck) and save some money, or live off campus and spend less than the dorms cost. Your on-campus meal plan could be higher or lower than the average that was used to compute the estimates you were given. If you live off-campus and do your own shopping and cooking, you’ll spend less money (but more time) on food. You can buy used books or possibly “rent” books and that will reduce those costs. The Bursar’s office can help you establish a payment plan that gives you the best options for your personal situation.
They are there to help you. Helping you is their job :slight_smile:

There is probably a housing office at each school, and they can tell you the areas where it is safe and convenient to live off campus. They will probably have listings of people or places looking for roommates to help reduce costs. They are also there to help you; helping you is their job, too. :slight_smile:

Congratulations on your accomplishment and good luck in the next steps!

Can you live off campus? 15K per year for room and board is a lot of money and as @Lynnski has already mentioned, it can be much less expensive to share an apartment near campus. Ditto on renting books or buying used copies (try Amazon or Chegg).

Have you checked costs/availability of major as Southeastern in Hammond? I know a few people who studied there and got great financial/merit aid packages.

@Lynnski thank you. ULL sounds cheaper because its close to home, but it really is not. They keep raising the tuition because they keep building stuff. Also I just looked at the IT major and how my courses transfer over, and its worse than if I would major in Business Informatics. I would be starting all over again. This is just a theory, but i could major in general studies and see if I can just take computer classes, but I doubt a job will hire me with a general studies degree. Also I applied to LSU a couple of weeks ago, the major i applied for is information systems and decisions sciences, but I doubt I’ll get in (you need a 2.5, I do not know my final gpa so it could be hit or miss). I also sent in a statement because I probably have to be admitted by committee. For LA Tech, I feel confident that I can get a scholarship, but it’s probably because they use your admissions application as your scholarship application. Ya’ll might be wondering why do I want to change my major, well originally I was going to go for fiance (to be a financial advisor), but is friend that is a double major at ULL (in accounting and fiance) and she was explaining the classes she had to take, and I did like the sound of it. So I was in my last semester at CC, so I do not want to change my major and have to start over again. So i just finish in business (I don’t hate it). I always wanted to be an engineer, but I am not good at math. So I did some research and found out about computer information systems, which is half business major half computer (cyber security).