Students leave billions in loan money on the table

- Parents and students are excited about college in the fall. But, between now and then they'll be thinking about how to pay for it. There's money out there if you look for it.

But, according to the finance site Nerd Wallet, in 2014 graduates missed out on $2.7 billion - billion with a "b" - in free federal grant dollars. Their survey shows that the average amount of money lost per eligible student was $1,861 a year.

Let's get to what you need to do to get some of that cash.  You must fill out a form called Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.  You have to fill out that to be eligible. And if you do here's what you can look forward to.

                                     FAFSA Loan Options

  • Pell Grant - no repayment, $5,920 a year available
  • Stafford Loans - two types, both need and non-need based
  • Perkins Loan - based on financial need at 5 percent interest
  • Federal Work-Study Program - participating schools provide campus jobs

A Pell Grant unlike a loan does not have to be paid back. The max per year for the 2017-2018 school year is $5,920. Again, no need to pay it back.  It is awarded for financial need, so amounts can vary. Now if you had a parent to do in Iraq or Afghanistan you could be eligible for even more money.

There are Stafford Loans to apply for.  There's the subsidized loan which is available on a need basis to undergrad students. And the federal government pays the interest on the loan while you're in school. The unsubsidized loan is a little different. Most degree seekers can have access and you don't have to show a particular financial need. But, you are responsible for the interest while you are using the loan.

And here's two more: the Perkins Loan. It's kind of a combination of the two above. You need to show real financial need and you will pay the interest - five percent. And your school is the lender, but not all school participate.  And the Federal Work-Study Program. The school will provide you part-time work so that you may earn money.

But you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which I hear is not fun. But if you do it, there's a lot of money out there.

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