How to Pay for the University of Central Florida: Financial Aid and Student Loan Options

 July 5, 2020
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how to pay for university of central florida

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While getting accepted to the University of Central Florida (UCF) is a big achievement, figuring out how to pay for it can be daunting. According to the school, the estimated annual UCF cost of attendance for a full-time resident student in 2020-21 is $16,254.

If you’ve got your heart set on attending UCF, how can you cover that cost? Well, most students pay for school with a mix of grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans. Let’s take a closer look at your options for paying for UCF, including from the following sources:

Tuition and fees$5,954

Annual costs of attending the University of Central Florida for a full-time, undergraduate resident student
Room $6,120
Board $4,180
Total cost of attendance $16,254
All information current as of June 18, 2020. Source: University of Central Florida

Covering UCF costs: Start with the FAFSA

Your first move when getting money to pay for the University of Central Florida is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA collects information about your family’s financial situation and passes it along to the school.

In order to qualify for federal student aid, such as student loans and grants, you must fill out the FAFSA. At many schools, the FAFSA is also used to determine your eligibility for state-level grants and other sources of funding. Filling out the FAFSA is your best bet to make sure that you get the most out of your efforts to pay for college.

Fill out the FAFSA as early as possible. Getting it turned in by the priority deadline set by your school of choice can ensure that you are first in line for programs with limited funding.

Grants for University of Central Florida students

When trying to pay for college, it’s best to start with sources of money that you don’t have to pay back. Grants don’t have to be repaid, so they’re a good idea when it comes to reducing the cost of your college experience.

In many cases, your eligibility for grants will be based on your financial need. Expect to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for certain grants. Some schools might have their own grant applications to fill out on top of the FAFSA.

If you’re researching grants, our guide to state grants can be a good place to start, since there are some grants available in Florida. You might need to fill out a Florida Financial Aid Application to qualify for some of the grants designed to help you pay for the University of Central Florida. Here’s a list of some of the grants offered:

  • Federal Pell Grant: As an undergraduate student, you’re eligible for up to $6,345 through the Pell Grant program for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Based on your financial need and other factors, you may qualify for up to $4,000 a year with this grant.
  • Florida Student Assistance Grant Program: If you’re a Florida resident, you might be eligible to receive a state grant if you have financial need. The maximum amount varies from year to year, but the minimum award is $200.
  • First Generation Matching Grant Program: For students who are first-generation college students and demonstrate financial need, it’s possible to get a little extra help, depending on available funding.
  • UCF Grant: The University of Central Florida offers a grant. Full-time students who demonstrate substantial financial need and file a FAFSA by Dec. 1 may be considered for this grant.
  • Charge On! 15 Grant: If you’re willing to move quickly through school by signing up for 15 credit hours per semester and can demonstrate financial need, the University of Central Florida might provide you with extra money for schooling.

You can learn more about your financial aid options at the University of Central Florida’s Office of Student Financial Assistance. Private organizations and nonprofits also offer grants to students who meet certain criteria, often based on financial need.

Scholarships for University of Central Florida students

Like grants, scholarships don’t have to be repaid. While there are scholarships for Florida students based on need, many scholarships also have a merit component. As a result, when applying for a scholarship, you may need to demonstrate your high academic performance or participation in extracurricular activities.

Carefully look at the requirements of different scholarships in order to see whether or not you qualify. Some scholarships are based on a characteristic, such as gender identity, race or religion.

Here are some of the scholarships available for University of Central Florida students:

  • Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program: Receive a percentage of tuition and fees, depending on which type of scholar you are. You need to meet enrollment and academic requirements in order to qualify.
  • UCF Provost Scholarship: Any student applying for the University of Central Florida is automatically considered for one of these scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to students who show outstanding academic performance while in high school.
  • Pegasus Scholarship Program: The awards in this program include such scholarships as the National Merit and National Hispanic Scholarship programs. These programs are all based on academic achievement.
  • Benacquisto Scholarship Program: This state-sponsored scholarship program focuses on those who are National Merit Scholars or National Achievement scholars.

The University of Central Florida also includes scholarships based on department and college. After choosing a major, you can contact your school for more information on how to apply for specific scholarships through your academic department.

In addition to looking for scholarships offered by your state and school, it’s also possible to find funding using websites such as FastWeb and Scholly.

Don’t forget to look at civic organizations in your community, as well. These local organizations might offer small scholarships, but the amounts can add up.

Federal work-study

Another option to help you pay for the University of Central Florida is the federal work-study program. With this program, part of your compensation comes from the government. That way, employers can afford to hire more students. When filling out your FAFSA, make sure you indicate your interest in federal work-study.

If you’re approved for work-study employment, you can look for jobs on and off campus. University of Central Florida undergrads can earn between $9 and $11.25 per hour, based on the jobs they do. However, you might be limited in the number of hours you can work based on how much funding you’re eligible for.

You can find jobs and apply by visiting the UCF’s Federal Work Study (FWS) page on the university’s website.

Federal student loans

Even with grants, scholarships and part-time work, you may not have enough money to pay for college. Some students may not even qualify for the funding they need to afford school. In such cases, the government offers student loans.

Federal student loans don’t have credit or income requirements, so they can be easy to qualify for. On top of that, the interest rate is fixed, meaning your payments won’t change on the standard repayment plan.

Federal student loans also come with automatic deferment while you’re in school. For those who struggle to find high-paying work after graduation, the federal government also offers income-driven repayment options. These repayment plans adjust your payments according to your discretionary income.

Types of undergraduate federal student loans
Interest covered during deferment? Interest rate Origination fee Credit check?
Direct subsidized loans Yes 2.75% 1.062% No
Direct unsubsidized loans No 2.75% 1.062% No
Parent PLUS loans No 5.3% 4.236% Yes
All information current as of June 18, 2020.

With subsidized student loans, the government covers your interest while you’re in school and during the six months after you graduate, and even while your loans are in deferment. However, once you start making payments, you’re responsible for interest charges. Subsidized loans can be valuable, though, because they can reduce the total amount you owe.

Unsubsidized loans, on the other hand, start accruing interest while you’re in school. If you don’t at least make interest payments during school, you could end up with a bigger bill in the long run. The student loan interest charged during your time in school is added to your total loan bill at the end of your grace period.

Your parents may also be able to help you pay for the University of Central Florida. Parents can take out parent PLUS loans to help finance their child’s education. There are some credit requirements to qualify, however.

University of Central Florida student loans

The University of Central Florida doesn’t have its own private loan program, but it does work with certain lenders to provide Optional Loans. In order to qualify, students (or a cosigner) must meet credit requirements and apply directly through the listed partners.

Private student loans

Sometimes, even after you’ve applied for federal loans and secured money for school, you could face a funding gap. In these cases, you might be able to turn to private student loans to cover the rest of your educational expenses.

You can find private student loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders. However, it’s important to understand that you don’t have access to programs such as income-driven repayment or federal loan forgiveness on your private student loans. You might also need a cosigner to qualify.

In rare cases, private student loans may be preferable over federal options. If you have excellent credit, for example, you may be able to secure a lower interest on a private loan compared with a federal loan. Additionally, some private student lenders have hardship programs if you run into financial problems later.

Carefully consider your options and compare private student loans. There are no standards for interest rates, term lengths and other loan features.

Bottom line: Planning for your UCF cost of attendance

Paying for school at any college can be a challenge. However, you have options when trying to decide how to pay for the University of Central Florida. Your best option, if you have time, is to start saving. You can use a savings account or 529 plan to help you reduce reliability on debt to afford college.

Grants and scholarships are vital tools as you seek out funding for college. But if you do need to borrow money to pay for school, it’s generally a good idea to start with federal loans. For the most part, private student loans are best used as a last resort, when you have a funding gap after exhausting all other options.

No matter how you pay for the UCF costs, carefully consider your options and combine strategies to ensure that you have a complete package to cover your college expenses. And if you do borrow student loans, consider making in-school payments to cut down on interest charges and make repayment more manageable after you graduate.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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