Really: How Much Financial Aid Can I Get??

We hear this question a lot. More specifically: “How much financial aid can I get if I want to attend a small, private college?”

The answer to this question depends on several things, like your academic ability, life experience, and family income. What you pay often has more to do with who you are than what college you choose.

That’s good news! When all your abilities, interests, and needs are considered, there will probably be more financial help available for you than you might realize.

It’s okay to be a little skeptical.

When you look at the full cost of tuition before any financial aid is applied, it’s easy to feel like college is out of reach.

But help is out there! How much you actually pay out of your own pocket depends on several factors.


The amount of effort you’ve put into your studies before applying for aid matters. Good grades, GPA (grade point average), and standardized test scores (like the SAT or ACT) improve your chances of being admitted and of receiving certain types of financial aid.


Volunteering with a local nonprofit organization shows you want to make a difference. And that interest in making a positive impact is a trait that can make you more eligible for scholarships focused on community service.


Pursuing your passions inside and outside the classroom can qualify you for more aid. If you’re involved in groups for interests like music, horseback riding, creating art, or writing computer programs, you may be eligible to apply for a special scholarship.

What Will My Financial Aid Package Include?

Together, all the funding sources that you’re awarded make up your financial aid package. What’s in it will be based both on who you are and how much you need.

  • The “who you are” sources are often referred to as merit-based.
  • The “what you need” sources are labeled (you guessed it!) need-based.

Both types of funding to help you with tuition come mostly from three sources: the federal government, your state government (if you’re going to college in your state), and the college itself.


This is money you don’t have to pay back. (As long as you follow the rules about sticking with your education.)

  • Scholarships usually come from the college and are awarded to students with skills and interests that match what the program is looking for, such as teaching, singing, horseback riding, etc.
  • Grants usually come from the state government or federal government and are often based on need (such as the Federal Pell Grant for low-income students).


This is money you do have to pay back, usually over a long period of time with payments you can manage. The loans with the lowest interest rates are from the federal government (the U.S. Department of Education).

There are two types of Dept. of Education (DOE) loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

  • Subsidized means you won’t be charged any interest until after college. If you qualify for these loans, it’s really helpful to know nothing is added to what you owe while you’re in school.
  • Unsubsidized means that interest is accruing (building up) while you’re in school. But the interest rate is usually still less than for private loans (from non-government lenders, like banks.)

Together, grants, scholarships, and student loans can cover a lot of your tuition. You’ll need far less money in your pocket than you think you do to attend the college of your choice!

Find Out How Much Financial Aid You Can Get to Attend Bethany College

If you’re looking for the ideal small, private college experience—with personal instruction and a close-knit network of support—we’ll help you afford it here at Bethany College!

Though we can’t tell you how much financial aid you’ll get before we’ve met you, we can tell you how many students get help to make college affordable.

  • At a typical private nonprofit college, about 88 percent of students receive some form of financial aid.
  • At Bethany College, 100 percent of students receive financial assistance!

Not sure how to get started? Learn more here.

If you need help, just reach out. We’ll be delighted to answer your questions about every step, from filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to applying for funding sources.

We look forward to awarding you with a financial aid package that will make your college dreams a reality!