It is possible, even while a young person is still in school, to get a head start on creating a cleared career and obtaining a security clearance. Some federal programs offer students work experience and on-the-job training.
Post-secondary education can be expensive, and students often have to take advantage of a variety of opportunities available to help them pay for this cost. Students typically receive a financial aid package from the financial aid office of their school upon acceptance and for each semester or year during which they enroll in coursework.
To receive the best possible financial aid package, it is important to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students considered “dependent” will need to have information from their parents or legal guardian to complete this form. Students considered “independent” may not need information from their parents or guardians.
Financial aid for higher education can include scholarships, work-study programs, grants and loans offered by local, state, or federal governments or by private entities such as non-profit organizations, banks, credit unions and others.
Scholarships and Grants
Typically, as long as a scholarship or grant is used for its intended purpose, a student does not have to pay it back upon graduation. However, should the student not use the scholarship or grant for its intended purpose, they may owe money to the organization that funded them either during their studies or after they have completed their program.
The largest federal grant program is Pell Grants. Pell Grants are awarded to students demonstrating exceptional financial need.
Scholarships may come from a variety of private and public sources. Some scholarships depend on academic or athletic performance, while others depend on the student’s intended major, their community activities, or other factors.
Many students also use private and federal loans, and it is not uncommon for a student to use a mix of both to finance their education. A federal loan is a loan that has been provided by the federal government, whereas a private loan is provided by a lender other than the federal government, such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or a school. Federal loans include Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (including Stafford Loans), as well as Direct PLUS Loans.
Students who take out private and/or federal loans to cover the cost of their education must start paying back their loan amount (plus accrued interest) when they graduate, withdraw from college, or if they enroll at less than half-time status.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), headquartered at Fort George G. Meade, offers a Pathways Internship Program. It provides students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions – from high school to graduate level – with opportunities to work in a federal environment while continuing their education. This is a paid internship program. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service. The program is open to high school and college students who maintain a minimum of a 2.0 GPA and at least a half-time class load.
DISA also operates a Pathways Recent Graduate Program. It’s designed for individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs and seek a dynamic career development program with training and mentorship. The program provides developmental experiences in the federal government intended to promote possible careers in civil service.
Homeland Security Student Pathways
Providing education and employment opportunities for students in an effort to secure the homeland. Check for opportunities for students and recent graduates.
The National Security Agency (NSA), also headquartered at Fort George G. Meade, operates a high school work-study program. The program hires students into paid positions as either office assistants or computer aides. The program is open to high school juniors who are enrolled in a business or computer class. They must also maintain an unweighted GPA of at least 2.5 and plan to participate in a school-sponsored work experience program in their senior year. Students receive on-the-job training (sometimes in sophisticated computer equipment) and work a minimum of 20 hours per week.