Congratulations! You’ve decided to further your education by attending a college or university! Between applying for schools, picking a major, and choosing where to go, you are probably overwhelmed by the amount of decisions you have to make.  Luckily, we have a few different suggestions to help reduce your stress when figuring out how to afford your new educational endeavor.


The first thing you will want to do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA. This application is used to determine your financial aid eligibility and could even find “free money” that you qualify for. The FAFSA can be found on and needs to be filled out each academic year. This is the most important step in finding the types of financial aid you qualify for and to help you pay for your education.

Grants and Scholarships

Both grants and scholarships are forms of aid that do not require any repayment and, if you qualify, are great options for paying for your education. Filling out your FAFSA will allow colleges, states, and the federal government to determine whether they are able to award you a grant based on your financial need.  Most awarded grants will be listed on the financial aid letter sent by your chosen school.

Scholarships, on the other hand, may be provided by the school or even found through scholarship websites. Private scholarships can be offered by companies (like the Community West Credit Union Vern Hyde Scholarship), non-profit organizations, and other community groups. If you are still in high school, your guidance counselor might even be able to suggest different scholarships you could apply for. There are many online services such as Cappex, Fastweb, and Zinch that can help you find thousands of scholarships to apply for. Always remember, whether the scholarship is worth $100 or $2,000, all awarded money is money you won’t have to pay back in the end!


Once again, here is where the FAFSA will come into play. The free application will allow the government to select a government backed lender to provide financial aid for your educational journey. Some students will qualify for a portion of their education to be financed through the government and others will be able to have all of their loans through the government. Borrowing from the government is the cheapest and easiest way to borrow and finance your cost of education. For students that are unable to borrow all of their loans through the government, they can seek our private lending to provide additional aid.

Either way, there are two types of loans that will be provided by any lender: subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans.

Subsidized loans are loans that do not accrue interest while you are in school. Unsubsidized loans are loans that do accrue interest while you are in school. This is important to consider, because when you finish your degree, some of loans will have interest that has been accumulating the entire time you were studying and others, will not begin to add on interest until you have fully graduated. Understand that when you begin making student loan payments, all interest has to be paid first, before you begin paying on the principal balance of the loan. Interest will accrue daily, and can become a hefty burden if you are not making payments while you are in school.

Note that not all private student loan lenders are the same. For example, Community West Credit Union has multiple options for student lending, including student loan refinance that allows you to select a flexible payment term.

No matter how you choose to pay for your future education, Community West Credit Union is here to help you along the way. Learn more about our student lending options by visiting or talking to a lender at your local CWCU branch. Once again, congratulations on your choice and good luck in your studies!

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