Frequently Asked Questions

Questions most people have about paying for college.

Click on the questions below to find the answers.

Where do I start?

Before you start looking into loans, you should search for scholarships and grants. A good place to start is your school's financial aid office. They can provide you information about grants, scholarships and federal student loans.

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I've heard there's scholarship money out there. How do I find it?

For starters, SunTrust offers the Off To College Scholarship Sweepstakes — enter every two weeks for a chance to win a $500 scholarship (see Official Rules for details). In addition, check out our Scholarship & Grants page to help you search for additional scholarship and grant money.

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My parents make decent money. Can I still get financial aid?

Yes, there are a lot of things in addition to your household income that determine if you can get financial aid, especially scholarships. There are also a number of loans for families of all income levels.

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How do I figure out how much I'll need for college?

The best place to start is your school's financial aid office. Tuition and fees are not the only costs for attending college. The financial aid office can provide you with estimates for costs such as housing, books, food and transportation. Once you know the total of all these costs, you need to determine how much your family can provide to you in the way of financial support. The difference between the total cost and your family's resources, will give you a good idea of what you need to pay for college.

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What are my borrowing choices for college?

There are basically two different types of loans people use to pay for college: federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans include Stafford loans for students and PLUS loans for parents and graduate students. Federal student loans are offered by the U. S. Department of Education through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). If federal student loans, scholarships, and grants don't cover the cost of college, consider a SunTrust private student loan.

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What exactly is "financial aid"? Is it the same thing as a scholarship?

Financial aid can include grants, scholarships, work-study programs and Federal Stafford loans. Scholarships, grants and work-study programs are financial resources that do not have to be repaid. Loans, whether they are federal student loans or private student loans, must be repaid.

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What's this FAFSA form I keep hearing about, and how do I get one?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form will be used to determine the amount of your financial aid eligibility. Generally, you submit this form in January or February of your senior year in high school. You can get one for free from your high school's guidance office, your college's financial aid office, the public library and online at Each college can have a specific deadline for this form. Be sure to check the deadline so you are not late in filing the FAFSA.

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"SAR." "Stafford Loan." "Master Promissory Note." What do they all mean?

Don't worry. Our web site has a pretty extensive glossary. Feel free to use it as your personal financial aid dictionary. And don't be afraid to talk to your guidance counselor at your high school or the financial aid office at the college you'll be attending.

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If I'm awarded financial aid, how do I get the money?

That really varies from college to college. In most cases, the money is sent directly to the financial aid office at your college at the start of an academic term. You should check with your college's financial aid office for details on this process.

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When should I start talking to the financial aid department of the college I'll be going to?

The financial aid department of any college is a great resource for answers to your questions. Unless you have specific concerns or circumstances, you may not need to call until after your FAFSA has been submitted.

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I already sent in my FAFSA, and my family's finances have just changed. What do I do?

Don't send in another FAFSA. Wait until you get your Student Aid Report (SAR). Then contact your college's financial aid office for assistance on how to address this change.

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Do I have to apply for my financial aid every year?

Yes, you'll have to submit a FAFSA every year and you may have to complete a financial aid application specific to your college. For private student loans, you do need to reapply every year.

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Paying for college can be a challenge. SunTrust can help navigate the options.

  • Money Management

    Before you look into paying for your college expenses, it's important to know how much money you'll need. Our money management resources, tools, and budgeting tips can help.

  • Financial Aid Tools

    Use our college tuition guide and step-by-step guide to paying for college for planning advice on how to avoid getting too over-burdened with debt before you've earned a degree.

  • Scholarships & Grants

    Before you get a loan, we encourage you to try getting scholarships and grants first. Our list of online resources can help. You can also register for the SunTrust Off to College Scholarship Sweepstakes (see Official Rules for details).