Paying for College
- Financial Aid 101
- Questions to Ask Colleges About Financial Aid
- FAFSA/Graduation Requirement
- FAFSA Completion Assistance
- Creative Ways To Pay For College
- Financial Aid Links
Financial aid helps students and their families pay for college. This financial assistance can cover educational expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are two basic types of financial aid.
1. Merit-Based Aid: This type of aid is based solely on the student’s credentials. Exceptionally well qualified students may be awarded academic, talent, leadership, or athletic scholarships, as well as scholarships to support ethnic and cultural diversity. Merit-based aid can come from a college itself, foundations within a college or private organizations.
- Institutional Scholarships. Individual college websites describe the programs at each school and list application deadlines and procedures. Additional essays, application forms, interviews, and auditions/recordings/portfolios may be required. Some schools automatically send scholarship information or make scholarship awards to applicants whose high school records meet the preliminary requirements. Returning college students should check yearly for new programs and funds available to upperclassmen in specific fields of study.
- BHS Local Scholarships. A number of Barrington-area community organizations and businesses offer scholarships to BHS students who meet certain criteria. Applications can be accessed on the BHS website as of February 1st and are due March 1st. Although financial need is a consideration for some of the scholarships, others are designed to recognize academic merit, leadership and community service. Watch student announcements for more details after the winter break.
2. Need-Based Aid: This type of aid is based upon a student and family’s financial need. It is calculated from the FAFSA or other aid applications (eg. the C.S.S. Profile). Sources include federal programs sponsored by the federal government, state programs, or institutional programs sponsored by a college or university.
- Grants. Funds from federal programs (e.g. Federal Pell Grant) or state programs (e.g. Illinois MAP Grant) that do not need to be repaid.
- Loans. These are federally funded loans for students and parents. The interest rates are typically lower and the student loans have deferred payment plans.
- Work-Study. Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
Financial Need-Based Aid
The financial aid office at each college will tell you which form or forms to use when applying. By using these forms, a student can apply for state and financial aid programs.
- The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form is required by colleges and universities in order to be considered for need-based aid. It is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Beginning October 1, families can file the FAFSA using prior-prior year (PPY) tax data. Under the PPY system, families can apply earlier, since tax data from two years prior would be readily available, allowing for earlier notification and ensuring more time for families to prepare and make financial decisions.
- The CSS Profile. This form is required by some schools, primarily highly selective, private colleges. It is available at https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org. There is a fee for the CSS profile.
- Some colleges may use their own school-specific financial aid forms.
Please Note: Different colleges have their own deadlines for receiving these completed applications.
Net Price Calculator
Net price calculators are available on a college’s or university’s website and allow prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students like them paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account. Students and their families can go to https://collegecost.ed.gov/ for more information. This tool is only meant to be a baseline estimate. Colleges vary with the information they request, and how they base their estimates. Compare colleges’ net prices with caution.
Questions to ask colleges about financial aid:
- What types of financial aid do you offer?
- What financial applications (e.g. FAFSA, CSS profile) are required and what are their deadlines?
- How long does it take the typical student to graduate?
- Are your merit scholarships renewable for more than four years?
- On average, how much do students end up borrowing?
- Do you grant course credit for passing AP exams? If so, how much and what scores are required?
- What if my family has special financial circumstances that are not adequately reflected in the application?
Illinois Student Assistance Commission
ISAC provides students and families with assistance through the financial aid process. For assistance regarding financial aid and/or FAFSA completion, please contact one of our ISACorps Outreach Specialists:
Joseph.Doner@illinois.gov or 847.894.7508
- Raquel.Garcia@illinois.gov or 224.457.6521 (Spanish-speaking)
Financial Aid Application Workshops
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is hosting several virtual statewide financial aid application workshops. After a brief introduction and overview, individuals will be able to work at their own pace and have their questions on the FAFSA or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid answered privately via the chat function. There will also be staff available to answer questions in Spanish.
One Stop - Harper College Financial Aid
Even if you (or your student) are not planning on attending Harper College, you are welcome to utilize their One Stop department for assistance. For one-on-one FAFSA completion support, financial aid assistance, and Harper registration information, utilize Harper's One Stop Office. Use the "Chat Live" button to ask any questions or schedule virtual appointments.
The 2023 BHS Local Scholarship Program is now closed. The BHS Local Scholarship Program will return in 2024.
Questions, contact Mrs. Galvan cgalvan@barrington220.
National Scholarship Links
The cost of obtaining a college degree is a big investment. When considering this post-secondary option, there are various ways to help reduce financial responsibility beyond traditional merit based and need based aid.
Even if a student is not planning on majoring in a fine art, they still may be eligible for a scholarship based on their talent. There may be an audition or portfolio required as part of the process. For colleges offering these types of scholarships, they will have this information shared on their financial aid and scholarships website. In addition, playing college level athletics can provide scholarship opportunities when participating in an NCAA Division I or Division II sport.
In-State Residency or Out-of-State Residence Paying In-State Tuition
Attending public Illinois colleges can typically cost less than public colleges in other states. There are also colleges/universities that offer in-state tuition for their out-of-state applicants – criteria for these scholarships or waivers can be found on the college’s financial aid website. Another option could be looking at a state’s residency policy in order to receive the in-state tuition cost (i.e. Utah and Missouri).
Community College Then Transfer To A College/University
Students can attend Harper College or another local community college while they figure out their career path. This can be a more efficient cost approach to college. Utilizing programs like Harper Promise or the University Center at Harper College can help reduce costs of tuition, room/board, travel costs, etc.
Harper College’s University Center – The University Center has partnered with DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, Roosevelt University and Southern Illinois University to offer bachelor's degree and master's degree programs that can be completed while staying on Harper's campus. By choosing a University Center program, you are choosing one of the most affordable and convenient ways to finish your four-year degree.
Finishing Your Degree(s) Early
It is possible for students to enter their first semester of college with college credit earned from Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores in a particular subject (refer to the college’s AP Policy for more information). They can also earn college credit in high school by taking Dual Credit courses. In addition, by taking more classes during the Fall/Spring semesters, along with taking classes during summer school some students are able to graduate 1-2 semesters early.
There are also accelerated programs that are called 3+1 or 3+2 where a student can earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in 4 or 5 years instead of the traditional 6 years (4 for a Bachelor's then 2 more for a Master’s degree).
Don’t forget to ask family member’s employers to see if they have scholarship programs available.
By using a 529 Plan to pay your college tuition, you can deduct up to $10-20k from your Illinois State Tax Return. You can learn more to Understand Your 529 Plan.
Becoming a Resident Assistant (RA)
During your Freshman year, you can apply for an RA job for your Sophomore Year. RAs are in charge of a dormitory floor and responsible for any events or issues that come up. Often, RAs do not pay for their Room, saving perhaps $8-12K each year.
On Campus Jobs and Experiences
Working part-time on campus is a great way to defray the cost of college. These jobs can be found either through a school’s work-study program or through their career center. Other creative ideas are participating in a paid clinical study for a school’s Psychology department or becoming a paid note-taker for a student with a diagnosed disability. Contact the school’s Disability Services Department for possible job opportunities.