Creating Balance: Tips for the Non-Traditional Student
August 24, 2015

Original post written by Ashley Riser, Associate Director of Admissions and Assistant Registrar

When making the decision to return to school, finances are often a primary concern. Therefore, learning about the types of financial aid available is an important step in the enrollment process. “Financial aid” is an umbrella term that refers to four main types of financial assistance: scholarships, grants, loans, and work study programs.

Scholarships and Grants

Grants and scholarships may be awarded by the federal government, the student’s home state, the college of attendance, nonprofit organizations or private organizations. These forms of financial aid do not require repayment.


Student loans, whether obtained from the federal government or private organizations, must be repaid with interest.

Federal Work Study

Work study programs provide part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students who have exhibited financial need, allowing students to contribute toward their education.

Upon applying to college, it is recommended (and often required) that students complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to determine a student’s level of financial need, as well as eligibility for federal aid, need-based scholarships and grants.

The application for a given academic year becomes available on January 1st, and is often submitted as part of the enrollment package. Most colleges have a priority deadline for financial aid consideration, so it is best to contact the Financial Aid Office at the school of choice prior to applying (The College of Charleston priority deadline is March 1st). A new FAFSA must be submitted every year in which a student plans to receive aid.

Prior to completing the FAFSA, students must apply for a PIN with Federal Student Aid. This unique identifier will be signed to the FAFSA, ensuring quick and accurate processing. As the FAFSA requires information from the previous year’s federal personal income tax return, using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) can help to simplify the application process. For more information, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/fillingout#financial-info.)

In addition to considering federal aid, students should also research the institutional scholarships available from their school of choice, (for the College of Charleston, visit the Financial Aid website.) and employer-based tuition assistance programs. Prospective Bachelor of Professional Studies students who would like to learn more about Financial Aid may send an email to bps@cofc.edu: we will get you in touch with our Financial Aid Counselor.