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Back to school, higher education edition: FAFSA alterations, new aid and paid internships

Higher education is expensive, but there is more aid, as well as more paid internships, and employment opportunities.

DALLAS — As many students get ready to head off to campus, there are some bothersome statistics. In a recent survey by the Horatio Alger Association, half of the students who are sitting out the fall semester for college or career/technical school said they would've attended classes if they had received enough financial aid. And perhaps the worst part: One in six who were surveyed said they didn't even have access to financial aid information.

Money is available

Money is available. Texas institutions of higher learning have gotten more than $1 billion in a third round of COVID relief funding (see pages 50-53 here for the amount disbursed to individual schools in Texas). And a lot of that money is earmarked for students.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, even though many schools say they are automatically checking student eligibility based on students’ FAFSA forms this year. Hopefully, you filled that out. But even if you did, you likely completed that many months ago.

RELATED: Lots of financial aid and a ton of scholarships still up for grabs this summer

Side note: Make sure you fill out your FAFSA form for next year. You can submit it starting Oct. 1, although the form is already available online.

As for your FAFSA for this year, if your situation has changed at all since you filed it, you can appeal to see if you are eligible for additional aid. Contact your financial aid office or do an internet search for your school with terms like "special circumstances appeal," "additional circumstance appeal," "family contribution appeal" or "reduction in income appeal."

Working through school

If you plan to work your way through school, there is some good news: There are lots of employers desperate to hire for full-time, part-time and remote positions. What if you want a job with something extra for experience in your field of study? It can be invaluable.

But there's good and bad news on this front. Last year, paid internships paid more per hour (with a mean wage of $20.76/hr.) according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks that mean hourly wage each year.

But of all internships, about half were reportedly online-only. And those students reported a lot less satisfaction with the experience: According to the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, just 31.2% of online-only interns said they were “extremely satisfied’ compared to 41.3% of in-person interns who felt that way.

If you are interested, well-known job search sites and scholarship hunting websites allow you to search for paid internships.

Before You Leave, Check This Out