What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money that can help you pay for college. Some aid needs to be paid back or earned, and some aid is a gift. This money is available to all kinds of people.
The FAFSA helps determine what type(s) of financial aid a student qualifies for. The sooner it is completed, the better.
7 Things to Know About Financial Aid
Getting financial aid can make it possible for you to go to college. Or it might enable you to attend a college you thought you couldn’t afford.
- The federal government (the largest source)
- State governments
- Colleges and universities
- Private organizations
One thing is for sure: If you don’t fill out financial aid forms, you won’t get any aid. Even if you think you may not qualify, you should still submit the forms.
To qualify for many types of aid, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application gives you access to these types of aid:
- Grants and scholarships: money you don’t have to pay back
- Work-study jobs: paid, part-time work that’s generally on campus
- Loans: money you need to pay back, usually after you graduate
The FAFSA qualifies you for federal aid, but many state governments and colleges also use this application to award their own aid.
Complete the form online at www.fafsa.gov or download paper forms there. You can even import your family’s tax information directly from the IRS website.
Once you have completed the FAFSA, you should apply for these types of aid:
- Financial aid at the colleges you are applying to
- Private scholarships you are eligible for
Other Financial Aid Options
An award of financial aid for a student to further their education. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award. Scholarship money can come from any number of sources: governments/state, private donors, universities, businesses, non-profit organizations, etc. There are various types of scholarships: academic, music, merit, athletic, minority, financial need-based, military, community service, etc. Scholarships are not required to be repaid
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to apply for most state loan, grant and scholarship programs, in addition to the federal loans and grants. When you submit the FAFSA to the US Department of Education, they forward the information on the form to the state student assistance agency. States work with colleges and universities, alongside the U.S. Department of Education, to provide a blend of financial assistance for students at all levels. Property taxes and lottery funds are used by states to finance student aid. To view Florida’s state scholarships and grant programs, go to: www.floridastudentfinancialaidsg.org
A private student loan is a non-federal loan used for education-related expenses. These loans are nonfederal loans, made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or a school. A private loan may be recommended once individuals have already exhausted other forms of free and federal financial aid. Private student loans are generally more expensive than federal student loans.
The military’s Tuition Assistance Program provides service members the opportunity to enroll in courses at accredited colleges, universities, community colleges, and vocational-technical schools. Each military branch has unique programs that can help with tuition for anything from professional certifications to a graduate degree.
Financial Aid Options: Federal Aid
Grants do not have to be repaid. Eligible students receive a specified amount each year under this program.
- Awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need.
- The amount of aid you can receive depends on your financial need, the cost of attendance at your school, and more. The maximum award amount for the 2018–19 award year is $6,095.
A grant for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need; funds depend on availability at the school.
- Provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.
- To receive the grant you must sign a contract to become a teacher in a high-need field (math, science, foreign language; special education, reading specialist, etc.) at a school or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families. You must teach for at least four academic years within eight years after you complete or otherwise cease to be enrolled in the program(s) for which you received TEACH Grant funds.
- You may be eligible if your parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
- The grant award is equal to the amount of a maximum Federal Pell Grant for the award year but cannot exceed your cost of attendance for that award year.
The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time employment on-campus or off-campus for undergraduate and graduate students. The money is earned while attending school to help pay education expenses.
Loans need to be repaid. Via the federal government, education loans have a fixed interest rate and income-driven repayment plans. If you need to borrow money to pay for college or career school, start with federal loans because they are less expensive than private loans.
- Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct Subsidized Loans have slightly better terms to help out undergraduate students with financial need.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.
- Direct PLUS Loans (for graduate and professional students).
- Direct PLUS Loans (for parents). Parents are fully responsible for paying these loans, even though they are taken out to benefit students.