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Student Loans

Idaho Student Loans, Scholarships and Grants

Updated Jun 02, 2021   |   8 mins read

Idaho is home to around 20 accredited colleges and universities, including both public and private institutions. With so many schools within the state’s borders, it’s no wonder around 203,600 borrowers in the state of Idaho had outstanding federal student loans totaling around $6 billion in 2017, according to the Department of Education.

Borrowing for school is very common in the Gem State, and the Institute for College Access and Success reports that the average debt for an Idaho graduate is around $27,130. If you’ll be financing your education with student loans, at least in part, it’s important to know where to find the right financing. And, because you want to borrow as little as possible, you should also know where to find Idaho student loans, scholarships, and grants.

This article will help you figure out exactly where to get all these sources of financial aid so you can make going to school in Idaho as affordable as possible.

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Getting Financial Aid for College

When you’re looking for financial aid for school, there are a few common sources of funding. Grants and scholarships, which could be provided by your school, the government, or private companies, do not have to be paid back. Student loans, on the other hand, do need to be repaid. Loans could also come from the government or private lenders.

To obtain federal student loans, as well as certain grants and scholarships, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application can be completed online on the Department of Education website. The application will ask about your personal financial situation, about whether you’re a dependent of your parents, and about your parent’s financial situation.

Completing the FAFSA allows each school you’ve applied to attend to prepare a financial aid package detailing loans, grants or scholarships, work study, and other sources of financing you’re eligible for. Your package will usually include Direct Loans, which are federal student loans.

The amount of loan funding and other aid you’re eligible for will vary based on the cost of the school you’re attending, as well as your expected family contribution (EFC). EFC is calculated based on your family’s financial resources, as well as other factors such as whether you have siblings in college.

You should always exhaust sources of funds you don’t have to pay back first before deciding to take out student loans. This means looking for Idaho scholarships and grants. If your expected family contribution is higher than you can actually afford or your federal student loans, grants, and scholarships don’t provide you with enough money to attend school, you may also need to take out private student loans. Private loans don’t have the same borrower protections as federal loans, so exhaust other sources of aid first.

State-Based Student Loans in Idaho

Federal student loans, including Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, could be available to you if you attend an eligible Idaho school. While the state of Idaho doesn’t offer a student loan program to supplement what the federal government offers, some individual colleges in Idaho do offer student loans to students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Examples include:

Idaho State University also has a list of alternative lenders you can consider borrowing from after exhausting eligibility for federal student loans, grants, and other sources of aid.

Many schools also offer short-term or emergency loans to students who need cash for a limited time to cover financial shortfalls. You should always talk with your school’s financial aid office to find out what options you have for school-specific loans in addition to Direct Loans that most students can obtain from the Department of Education.

Idaho College Scholarships

Scholarships are money you don’t have to repay. Scholarships can be obtained from the Idaho State Board of Education, the school you attend, and local organizations. To find scholarships in Idaho, you should check with:

  • Your school’s financial aid office. Many have directories of scholarships you can apply for. If you attend Idaho State University, for example, you can use the Bengal Online Scholarship System to apply for scholarships.
  • Groups and organizations you and your family are members of. Churches, labor unions, community groups, and athletic associations are among the groups that routinely offer scholarship funding.
  • Local and national businesses. Many companies provide scholarship funding to students who study in a particular field or meet other specific requirements.
  • The Idaho State Board of EducationThe Board of Education has a list of scholarship opportunities on its website.

If you live in Idaho, some of the scholarships you may wish to apply for include:

  • The Idaho Opportunity Scholarship: This scholarship is open to students with a cumulative unweighted GPA of at least 2.7. You must be an Idaho resident, graduate from school in Idaho, complete the State Board of Education scholarship application and your FAFSA by March 1, and maintain satisfactory academic progress. This scholarship is renewable for up to four years and provides up to $3,500 annually.
  • The Governor’s Cup Scholarship: The Governor’s Cup Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship for Idaho high school grads with a GPA of at least 2.8. It’s worth up to $3,000 annually and is renewable for up to four years for academic programs and up to three years for career technical programs. Students will need to write a 500-word essay about goals and interests, must have done community service, and must have demonstrated a commitment to public service. The scholarship reopened 11/1/18 for the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The GEAR UP Idaho Scholarship: Applicants under 22 who graduated from specific schools are eligible for this scholarship if they participated in an Idaho GEAR UP Program. Scholarship amounts are based on annual funding, and students must attend one of the 11 eligible schools. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2019.
  • University of Idaho scholarships: The University of Idaho offers $25 million in annual scholarship funding, with scholarships awarded based on merit, achievement in specific fields, or financial need. You’re considered for scholarships automatically when applying for admission; there’s no separate scholarship application.

Idaho Grants for Colleges

Grants are similar to scholarships in that funds don’t have to be paid back. However, most grants are awarded based on financial need, while scholarships could be need-based, merit-based, or based on specific achievements or memberships.

Options for grants for Idaho students include:

  • Federal Pell Grants: Pell grants are available if you’re obtaining a bachelor’s degree. You can become eligible by completing the FAFSA. The grant amount will vary based on financial need, cost of attendance, and whether you’re attending full-time or part-time. The maximum Pell Grant in the 2018-2019 school year is $6,095.
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity GrantsYou’ll need to complete the FAFSA and your college will need to determine you have a strong financial need before you can obtain this grant. The grant is worth between $100 and $4,000 annually.
  • TEACH GrantsTEACH grants are for students who will teach in a high-need field in a low-income area after graduation. The grant is worth up to $5,000 annually.

Students should check with their school’s financial aid office to explore other opportunities as well. For example, Idaho State University lists a Special Non-Resident Fee Waiver on its grant funding page. This waiver is sponsored by the university to allow certain non-residents of Idaho to pay in-state tuition. That provides significant savings.

Bottom Line

As you can see, you have ample options for student loans, grants, and scholarships if you attend school in Idaho. Explore all your options and make sure to choose funding you don’t have to pay back first, then federal and state loans, and finally private loans to make up the shortfall. By borrowing as little as possible and choosing the right loans, you can make student loan repayment cheaper and easier after you’ve graduated from school in Idaho.