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. Here are seven important things you should know about financial aid.
- Financial aid can help you go to college
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.
- A total of $183.8 billion in aid was available in 2014-15 undergraduate aid.
There are four main sources:
- Federal government (the largest source)
- State governments
- Colleges and universities
- Private organizations
- You have to apply to qualify for aid
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.
- The FAFSA is the place to start — and it’s free
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 isn’t only for federal aid
The FAFSA qualifies you for federal aid, but many state governments and colleges also use this application to award their own aid.
- Completing the FAFSA is convenient
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.
- More aid is out there
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
For more information about financial aid, see Financial Aid: FAQs or download/print the Financial Aid 101 handout (.pdf/443KB)
To learn more about filling out the FAFSA, read How to Complete the FAFSA.