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Plan and Pay for Higher Education

 Planning for college, career technical training, or other education beyond high school involves more than picking a school and vocation. Education usually costs money after 12th grade, but the benefits of training beyond a high school diploma can include increased job security, higher wages, additional benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans, and more opportunities for career advancement. Education costs vary widely, but almost every person is eligible for some type of financial assistance.

If you are re-entering college or looking for an affordable option, California now offers more ways to afford higher education through the California Community College system. With 116 campuses throughout the state, you can find quality, affordable college courses near you.

California is home to a world-class public university system. With 10 campuses in the University of California (UC) system and 23 California State Universities (CSU) campuses, there is likely an excellent, affordable university near you.

If you are seeking a career change, California’s Calbright College is a new online option that can help you learn new knowledge and skills in a flexible environment.

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     Key Terms

    Associate’s degree: A degree usually awarded for at least two years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

    Bachelor’s degree: A degree usually awarded for at least four years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

    Cost of attendance (COA): The total amount it will cost you to go to school — usually stated as a yearly figure. COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses.

    Expected family contribution (EFC): The index number schools use to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Your EFC index number is reported to you on your Student Aid Report. It is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number your school uses to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.

    FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is used to determine how much a student and his or her family are eligible to receive in federal financial aid. The FAFSA may also be used to determine a student’s eligibility for state and school-based aid and also may influence how much private aid a student receives.

    Federal student loans: These loans are funded by the federal government and have terms and conditions that are set by law. Federal loans also include benefits that private student loans don’t usually offer. These benefits could include lower interest rates, repayment plans based on income, and possible loan forgiveness for people who choose to work for a certain amount of time in government or for certain not-for-profit organizations or teach in a low-income school.

    Federal work-study: A program that provides part-time jobs to help you earn money to pay for college expenses.

    Financial aid: Money given in the form of grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships to help pay for post-secondary tuition and fees, as well as related expenses such as room and board, books, supplies, and transportation.

    Grant: A type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid, unless, for example, you withdraw from school and you need to pay back some of the tuition money; often need-based.

    Master’s degree: A degree usually awarded for one or two years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree.

    Private college or university: A higher education institution that is primarily supported by private funds. Includes not-for-profit schools and schools associated with a religious organization.

    Public college or university: A higher education institution whose programs and activities are operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials and which is supported by public funds.

    Scholarships: Money that students receive based on academic or other achievements to help pay education expenses. Scholarships generally don’t have to be repaid.

    Tuition: The fees charged by an educational institution for learning.

    Vocational: A type of postsecondary education that trains students for a specific line of work, such as health care or automotive.