For those seeking to help others, becoming a counselor is a worthwhile goal. Counseling students are often a variety of ages and from many different walks of life and backgrounds. It is often a popular major for adults who wish to use their life experiences to pursue a new career. However, becoming a professional counselor requires education. Whether one is a traditional student or is returning to school after many years, the question is the same. How does one pay for education? There are many types of financial aid available for counseling students.
Federal Financial Aid - Grants
For students at the undergraduate level, Pell grants are available. These grants are need-based, and the maximum award is currently $5465.00. The federal government provides the funds for every eligible student. The FSEOG is another federal need-based grant program with awards ranging from $100 to $4000 a year. The FSEOG is in addition to Pell Grant funds, but unlike the Pell Grant, each college campus receives a limited amount. This means that an SEOG grant is not guaranteed to be available for every eligible student. Because grants do not have to be repaid, they are ideal for those who qualify.
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Federal Financial Aid - Loans
Because many counseling programs are at the graduate level, student loans may be the main source of federal financial aid for counseling students. Both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans are offered. Subsidized loans are need-based. While one is in school, the interest will be paid by the federal government. Unsubsidized loans are available to all students, but the interest will need to be paid quarterly. If it is not, it will be added to the principal amount which increases the overall loan balance. More information can be found on the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website.
State and University Aid
Many states offer assistance to college students in the forms of grants and scholarships. In addition, most universities have their own scholarship programs. For counseling students at the graduate level, scholarships may be found by contacting the university department offering the counseling degree that they wish to obtain.
There are a variety of scholarships available from many different types of organizations and business. Many of these scholarships may require students to meet specific criteria. Sallie Mae has a scholarship search page that students can use to find possible options.
For students who wish to begin a career in counseling, having professional credentials is important. There may be many paths to obtaining that credential, but a degree from a reputable program is almost always a necessary step. The cost of taking that step should not deter one from pursuing their goals. With the wide variety of financial aid and scholarships available, determined students can become the educated professional counselor they wish to be.