On average, the Georgia graduate carries $27,657 in student loan debt, according to the data published in a 2016 report out of The Institute for College Access and Success.
Furthermore, 60 percent of state students will end up with some debt burden. This statistic places Georgia firmly in the middle of the pack of the student debt load in America today.
As is the case for students across the country, student loan debt is an increasing burden for many in the state. It is more important than ever to seek out free sources of funding, like Georgia scholarships and grants.
On this page:
Getting Financial Aid for College in Georgia
Getting into college is the first step to furthering your education, but the next step should be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is the go-to for any college student seeking federal or even state funding for their postsecondary education, whether that is a college, university, or technical institute. The application is a one-stop shop for scholarships, grants, and federal student loans.
The level of federal student aid you could receive will vary depending on your academic merit, financial need, and submission date. Each program has different maximums. For example, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award was $5,920 for the 2017-2018 school year, whereas Perkins federal student loans allow for a maximum of $5,500 per year and up to $12,500 per year for the Direct Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Direct Loans.
Keep in mind when you complete your FAFSA, you’ll need to have a complete understanding of your expected college costs. Your academic costs aren’t just about tuition. Always budget for room, board, fees, and other miscellaneous costs. Georgia scholarships, grants, and student loans are usually applicable for most expenses related to postsecondary attendance.
Georgia Student Loans
Private student loans will ideally be your last-ditch effort to source outside funding for your postsecondary education. After exhausting all federal student aid, including federal student loans, then explore what options are available to you through private lenders. Don’t be afraid to shop around before choosing a lender. Below are two Georgia student loan options to consider.
Georgia’s Own Credit Union
Georgia’s Own Credit Union is open to credit union members who are residents of the state. Their undergraduate student loan interest rates currently range from 6.75% to 8.25% APR. There is no application or origination fee. A cosigner might be required, depending on the financial history of the primary borrower. More information is available, as well as the online form, through its online portal.
The Smart Option Student Loan of Georgia
The Smart Option Student Loan of Georgia is underwritten by national student loan servicer Sallie Mae. It offers both fixed and variable interest rates, currently between 3.87% to 11.85% APR. There are no origination fees, and it offers three repayment plans including a Deferred Repayment Option, a Fixed Repayment Option, or an Interest Repayment Option. Finally, through Sallie Mae, students can access upwards of 120 minutes of free tutoring.
>> Read More: State-based student loans
Georgia Scholarships for College
Scholarship search tools are good places to start exploring Georgia scholarship options. The Federal Student Aid office recommends relying on the federally operated Career One Stop for all scholarship searchers. Other offline places to look for scholarships include your college’s financial aid office, as well as speaking specifically with your academic department.
To get you started on your quest for scholarships in Georgia, here are five opportunities:
Georgia Press Educational Foundation Scholarships
Georgia Press Educational Foundation Scholarships, open to state residents who are graduating high school or enrolled at Georgia college or university studying journalism. The annual deadline is March 1, with more information about each specific scholarship and amount awarded available at the GPEF website.
Georgia CFE Chapter Scholarship
Georgia CFE Chapter Scholarship, open to state residents, either undergraduate or graduate students studying accounting, criminal justice, risk management, or in a law degree program in the state. Must have a demonstrated interest in fraud. The yearly deadline is in October, with a maximum scholarship of $2,500.
GLA Hubbard Scholarships
GLA Hubbard Scholarships, open to students who have been accepted to a master’s degree program at a library school accredited by the American Library Association. Residents of Georgia are given priority. The yearly application deadline is in April, and the maximum award is $3,000.
E. Lanier Finch Scholarships
E. Lanier Finch Scholarships, open to students focused on pursuing a career in broadcasting in Georgia. The award is chosen by a panel of broadcasters, worth up to $1,000. Contact the Georgia Association of Broadcasters for more information.
Gene Henson Scholarships
Gene Henson Scholarships, open to members of the Atlanta Association of Legal Administrators, who wish to pursue training and continuing education. Students must be attending an educational facility in the state of Georgia. The annual deadline is April 1, more information available on their website.
Georgia Grants for College
Georgia scholarships and grants are similar kinds of free financial aid, but with key differences. Scholarships are conventionally merit-based, whereas grants are typically based on financial need. Both are excellent types of financing to pursue because neither requires repayment under most circumstances.
Information about Georgia grants can be found alongside scholarships through an online database such as the Career One Stop website, or via information provided by your school’s financial aid office.
Here are three Georgia grants to get you started:
Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant
Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant, open to Georgia state residents enrolled full-time in an eligible private college or university in the state. The student must also maintain a specific GPA. The award is up to $475 per semester, with deadlines varying depending on the school.
HOPE Grant, open to Georgia residents enrolled full-time in an eligible college or university in the state; a complete list of schools is available on the website. The grant is meant to cover a portion of your tuition, with full award amounts available through their website. The submission deadline is the last day of your semester or by the withdrawal date.
Public Safety Memorial Grant
Public Safety Memorial Grant, open to dependent children of a Georgia Public Safety Officer who was permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty. The annual award aims to cover the full price of tuition, up to $18,000 per year. The application is available online.