Going to college can cost a lot of money, as you probably know. If you are planning to attend college soon, you may want to consider applying for federal aid. You can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA.
The sooner you fill out this form, the more improved your chances are obtaining the total amount of financial aid available to you. Also you'd be able to repair any possible problems that might arise far ahead of the deadline for the aid.
The last date for applying varies from year to year, but is usually somewhere near the start of summer. It is best to apply as early as you can though, so that you can get any questions or concerns you have answered in a timely basis.
A far as the FAFSA goes, most colleges require this form to be filled out before they will award any kind of financial aid, including federal. In fact, you need to check with your college to see if the FAFSA is required even for applying for scholarships as well as aid. Start with the financial aid office at the college of your choice, to discover what forms they require.
Also keep in mind that you will have to fill the FAFSA form every year, because financial aid is not always renewed each year. The rules change from year to year regarding who gets eligible for aid, and so you need to apply for it every year you are in college.
Besides student loans, through the FAFSA you can also apply for Federal Pell Grants and Federal Work Study programs. Of course, loans should be the last alternative you choose. But any kind of aid will make it possible for people to attend college, who else may not have the chance.
Beside checking with the college of your choice about all the options available, also talk to your high school counselors. And do searches on the internet for information on loans, grants, scholarships, and work study programs that may be available to you.
If you do choose to get financial aid through a loan, make sure you read and understand the terms of the loan fully first before accepting. Best of luck!