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Paying for College

Talking about how to pay for college can be a difficult conversation, but you should have this  talk early in the process. We want you to attend a school that is a reasonable financial obligation for your particular situation.

Baltimore School for the Arts recommends that no student take out more than $50,000 in loans combined for the entirety of their college studies. We’re lucky—Maryland is home to some of the nation’s finest public universities and community colleges. These are also much more affordable options.

We’re going to explain all the types of financial aid out there and where you can find help paying for college.

Categories of Financial Aid

Need-based: based on family income

Non-need-based: based on merit, academic achievement, leadership, artistic/athletic ability, etc.

Types of Financial Aid


  • Money that does not have to be paid back
  • Usually awarded to students with strong academic and/or arts records


  • Money that does not have to be paid back
  • Usually awarded on basis of financial need


  • Money students and parents borrow to help pay for college expenses
  • Available from federal programs (Stafford, Perkins) and commercial banks, often at a low interest rate
  • Repayment from federal loans usually begins six months after students graduate from college

Unsubsidized loans: Interest accrues while student is in school (full-time)

Subsidized loans: Interest begins to accrue six months after you leave school

Employment/Work Study

  • Allows student to earn money while in school to help pay educational costs
  • In form of a paycheck, or non-monetary compensation, such as room and board

Sources of Financial Aid

Federal Government

  • Largest source of financial aid
  • Aid awarded primarily on the basis of financial need
  • Must apply every yearusing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • FASFA available October 1 the year before the student will be attending college
  • Students and parents should complete the FAFSA by January 1 of the year the student will be attending college. The FAFSA determines the family’s EFC (expected family contribution) number based on the tax information from the previous year. With that number, the colleges to which you have applied develop financial aid packages that often will accompany the acceptance letters. You will receive a different financial aid package from each college

State Government

  • Residency requirements
  • Award aid on the basis of merit and need
  • Some programs use information from the FAFSA
  • Deadlines vary from state to state
  • More information

Private sources

  • Foundations, businesses, charitable organizations
  • Deadlines and application procedures vary widely
  • Begin researching private aid sources early

Civic organizations and churches

  • Research what is available in your community
  • To what organizations and churches do the student and family belong?
  • Application process usually begins in spring of senior year
  • Small scholarships add up!


  • Companies may have scholarships available to children of employees
  • Companies may have educational benefits for their employees

Schools (the colleges/conservatories to which the student is applying)

  • Largest source of grant aid
  • Contact Financial Aid Office of school for requirements, applications, and deadlines
  • Merit and need-based aid

Now that you understand what opportunities are out there, let’s talk about how to apply for aid.

Next Steps