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Can I afford college?

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"I'm a single parent with low or no income, and I receive cash assistance, food assistance, and/or Medicaid. Can I really afford college?

The simple answer is: Yes, you can. The difficult answer is you may have to make some sacrifices and will certainly need to lay out a budget. The benefits from a college education will include a higher-paying job, which produces self-sufficiency and can eliminate the need for public assistance. People with a college education make an average of one million dollars more in a life-time than those without a degree. To afford my education, I used financial aid, which consisted of scholarships, grants, and loans, along with my income from my part-time campus job. I was also able to keep my food and medical assistance. After my tuition, supplies, and books were paid for, I was able to budget out my semester so my rent, utilities, and other financial obligations were paid for, many of them in advance. Don't let financial concerns deter you from higher education. I did it and so can you!"

-Heidi Bauer, first-generation college student - GED Scholar
Click here for Heidi's sample budget

Think of college as an investment with countless rewarding benefits. Paying for your education can be an intimidating process, but don't let that frighten you. With careful planning, it can easily be achievable.

  • Scholarships and grants
    Scholarships and grants are money "gifts" that do not need to be paid back. They are awarded to students who meet specified qualifications (i.e. volunteer work, financial need, test scores). You can receive scholarships from the university you are going to attend or from organizations unaffiliated with your university. You can find several websites online that can help you with your scholarship search, including the Kent State Scholarship Search Qualifier. Listed here are scholarships specifically designed for GED graduates or adult students. Additionally, listed below is a list of scholarship search websites we recommend you browse.

  • Loans are financial aid that must be repaid. Depending on the loan, payment either begins immediately or upon graduation. Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Student Loans are repaid after graduation, and the amount borrowed increases each year the student attends school. Federal Direct (PLUS) Loans are under the student's name with their parents' income history and available to dependent student. Payment for this loan begins immediately. Also available are Alternative Loans (private loans with varying interest rates and repayment terms) and the Federal Work Study program (funding for students employed on- or off-campus that assists with day-to-day student expenses). To receive these loans, you must file the FAFSA (explained below).
    • Interest - With Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, students are not charged interest while attending school at least part-time or until after graduation. Once a student takes out an Unsubsidized Loan, interest begins accruing immediately. The student can pay interest while in school or after graduation. If the student chooses the second option, they will be paying more because interest will be charged based on a higher amount.
  • Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) is a online application required for financial assistance. The application must be completed between January 1 and February 1. You can find the application on If you do not have Internet access, you can call 1-800-4-FED-AID to receive a paper copy. The FAFSA determines which loans and financial aid you qualify for. If you are a dependent student, you will need your parents' or guardians' information to complete the form. You do not need your parents' information if you are an independent student. If you do not qualify as an independent student, but are unable to obtain your parents' information, you can obtain documentation of independence from a financial aid administrator.
  • Click here for a FAFSA Application

  • Housing is an important factor to consider. Will you be living on- or off-campus? How much will you be spending on rent, utilities, and food? Do you want a roommate, or are you willing to spend more for a single room? If you are planning to live on-campus, your room and board will include internet access, a close proximity to campus, and a meal plan. The Allerton Apartments are available on the Kent campus for students with families.
  • Budgeting is extremely critical during the years you are a college student. You will need textbooks, school supplies, reliable transportation, and other daily necessities. Be sure to look around for the best prices.
  • Childcare Assistance

    Childcare is a major priority for students with children. Paying for childcare may seem like a daunting expense, but there are available programs that assist parents with childcare based on family income. This assistance can cover all or some of childcare expenses. For more information about the programs available in your area, call your local social service agency or visit their website to fill out an application for assistance.

            Portage County Job and Family Services: 330.297.3750
            Stark County Job and Family Services, Human Services Division: 330.451.8500
            Summit County Job and Family Services: 330.643.7686

  • Ohio Voucher Program
    The application for the Ohio Child Care Voucher Program becomes available when W2 forms are ready in January. The application process for this program is lengthy so applicants must apply early. Once the application process is complete, your local social services agency will provide you with a complete listing of child care agencies that accept vouchers. Please visit this website for more information about the program.

Kent State University

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