Financial Aid Resource Guide

Fin AidA library science degree or a degree in a related field prepares graduates for a variety of positions in many professional settings. It is a field with exciting opportunities and rewarding challenges. With the rising cost of tuition, you may be deterred from pursuing higher education. Don’t let the cost of earning a degree discourage you from accomplishing your goals. There are many financial aid options that can help you pay for school.

If you want to get a degree in this field, there are many different options to help fund your education. To start, check out the financial aid options available to students.

Library Science Scholarships and Fellowships

For students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, scholarships can be a great resource to provide additional educational funding that you do not need to pay back. Scholarships are often given based on academic achievement, leadership, and future career interests. Scholarships can be searched for in a number of different ways. First, start by contacting the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. You can research scholarship information online. However, make sure scholarship information and any offers you receive are legitimate. You should not have to pay to find scholarships. If an online source or an organization asked you to pay a fee, this is a red flag that they may not be a legitimate resource or organization, and a sign that you should look elsewhere for funding.

Fellowships are similar to scholarships, but for those at the graduate level. Some fellowships also require you to serve as a teaching assistant or work on research projects. These awards are often sizable, allowing students to concentrate directly on their studies while paying for school. In order to find and apply for a fellowship, contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. If you plan to attend an online school, a fellowship might still be an option if the school has a satellite campus in your area.

Grants for Library Science Students

Like scholarships/fellowships, grants don’t have to be repaid and are available for both undergraduates and graduate students. Grants are typically given based on financial need and come in all shapes and sizes. Grant applications are typically longer and more detailed than scholarship applications, but it depends on the specific program. Most commonly, you can find grants from both federal and state governments, as well as universities and public an private organizations. Don’t forget to apply for the Federal Pell Grant if you’re getting your undergraduate degree. This fund is available to those who qualify and you can apply by filling out the FAFSA form.

We’ve outlined the major federal grant programs below to help you understand your options:

  • Federal Pell Grant: Awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and who have not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): Awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and who have not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: For undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or graduate students who are or will be taking coursework to become an elementary or secondary teacher.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: For students whose parent/guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11.

As previously mentioned, grants can be awarded from a multitude of places. While federal grants may be more commonly awarded, they typically give out less money. Students from all over the nation are applying for federal grants, and there is only a certain amount set aside to disperse among students. Be sure to check with your institution to see if they offer any grants, and how much you could be eligible to receive. Chances are that if your school does offer grants, that you may be awarded a higher amount than a federal grant. The graph below shows the average amount of grants awarded in the 2012-2013 academic year to full-time, undergraduate students attending four-year institutions and who provided the most funds to students.

Obtained from the National Center for  Education Statistics

Obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics

Be sure to take full advantage of the grant programs available and apply to any and all of them that you are eligible for.

First Step for Financial Aid

FAFSA stands for Free Application For Student Aid and it is provided by Federal Student Aid which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. It is a free way to help students manage their financial aid, and they distribute federal grants, work-study aid, and loans to all eligible students. Without completing and filing your FAFSA, the financial aid department at any institution you apply to will have a harder time helping you plan for tuition costs. Also, the Federal Student Aid Department provides a variety of information about the different types of financial aid, including a comprehensive breakdown of the different types of loans that are available to students who should need them. Here are the basic steps in filling out a FAFSA:

  1. File Your Taxes: The sooner you file your taxes the better. About a week after you have filed your taxes, you should begin filling out the FAFSA. Once you do, they will ask for your tax return information and give you the option to electronically link it from the IRS directly. Linking it ensures that all of the information is entered correctly, that way you do not have to go back to make corrections later.
  2. Set Up Your FAFSA Account: Setting up your account entails entering your personal information, including social security, and creating a pin-code password. Once you have done this, they will give you a FSA ID for electronic identification.
  3. Determine If You Are A Dependent: Even if you filed as an independent on your taxes, that does not mean that you will be considered an independent for the FAFSA, as they have different ways of calculating your status. If you are a dependent, then you will need your parent’s personal and tax return information to complete your FAFSA. Some quick ways to know if you would be considered a dependent is if you are 23 years old or younger, and are any one of the following: pursuing an undergraduate or lower degree, have never served in the army, claim no one else as a dependent, and have not been emancipated or declared homeless by the government in the past year.

For more information about financial aid, click here, and to begin filing your FAFSA, click here.

Specific Financial Aid Options for Library Science Students

Many scholarships, fellowships, and grants are available regardless of major, but there are also some opportunities specifically for students in the library science field or related fields. Some scholarships have very specific criteria and require a lengthy application so it’s important to ensure that you fulfill all the necessary requirements before applying.

Many organizations, both public and private, offer scholarships for library science students. Below is a helpful list to aid in your search for funding unique to your area of study:

  • American Indian Library Association
  • American Library Association
  • Association for Library Collections and Technical Services
  • Library and Information Technology Association
  • Association of Research Libraries
  • Beta Phi Mu
  • Chinese American Libraries Association
  • Coalition for Networked Information
  • Council on Library and Information Resources
  • Library of Congress
  • Medical Library Association
  • Association for Library Collections & Technical Services
  • American Association of Law Libraries
  • Association for Library and Information Science Education
  • International Reading Association
  • Music Library Association
  • Special Library Association
  • Society of American Archivists
  • Women’s National Book Association

Our best recommendation for prospective students looking for financial aid is to do your research, remain diligent, and apply for all of the grants and scholarships for which you are eligible. It’s a time consuming process, but one that will likely pay off.

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