SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - College is now just a year away for high school seniors across the county, but it's never too early for San Diego families to start working out how to pay for that degree.
10News spoke with Vonda Garcia, who oversees financial aid for 16,000 students at UC San Diego. She says there are several things families need to know when it comes to student loans, grants, work study programs and scholarships.
Garcia says the first thing to do is fill out a FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. She says it's a one-stop shop for all sorts of financial aid:
- Federal loans with interest subsidized during school
- Federal loans with unsubsidized interest
- Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Federal Work Study
- Cal Grants
- Most institutional grants
Garcia says scholarships are a little different. Students can find and apply for them by:
- Applying at individual schools (at UC San Diego, the admission application serves as the scholarship application for the first year)
- Apply online at Fastweb.com or gocollege.com
- Applying with organizations, churches, employers, etc.
She warned never to pay to apply for scholarships or financial aid, noting it's usually a scam.
"They're told, just pay $400 and we guarantee you $2,000 in scholarships, and the schools can provide all the information the students needs to apply for scholarship for free," Garcia said.
Garcia says families who skip the FAFSA application and go straight to private lenders often don't get the best terms or interest rates. She says her office reaches out to those families to tell them about their options.