Financial Aid: FAQ

Resources to help you pay for college.

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

There are billions of dollars of financial aid available to students who need help paying for college. If you want this assistance, it’s important that you determine your eligibility and apply on time.

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How many college students get financial aid?

Millions of students receive financial aid each year. In 2021-22, undergraduate and graduate students received a total of $234.6 billion in student aid in the form of grants, Federal Work-Study, federal loans, and federal tax credits and deductions.

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Can I afford to go to college?

Despite the news stories about rising college prices, a college education is more affordable than most people believe. Many colleges provide an excellent educational experience at a price you can manage. Public college prices are much lower than you might expect, and many private nonprofit colleges provide generous grants and scholarships to offset published costs.

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Does applying for financial aid hurt my chances of being admitted?

You’re usually admitted based on your academic performance and the qualities you bring to the campus community. Colleges want to admit a diverse group of students and often use financial aid to achieve that goal. It’s crucial that you apply for financial aid early in the application process before all of a college’s funds are allocated.

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Do I qualify for aid even if I don’t get straight A’s?

It's true that some scholarships are awarded based on academic performance. However, most financial aid is based on your family’s financial information provided on an aid application, typically the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Are private colleges out of my reach?

Although the cost of college may be a crucial factor for you, focus instead on finding a college that’s a good fitone that meets your academic, career, and personal needs.

You don’t have to rule out “expensive” schools. Keep in mind that private colleges usually offer generous financial aid to attract students from every income level. Plus, financial aid can come from different sources such as scholarships, grants, and loans. So think about net price (not published price), and don’t be afraid to apply to colleges you think you can’t afford.

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Is my family’s income too high to qualify for aid?

Financial aid is intended to make a college education available to students from different financial backgrounds. Family income, the number of family members in college, medical expenses, and other factors may be considered when determining your financial aid eligibility. Even if you think your family income is too high for you to qualify for aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form determines your eligibility for federal and state student grants, work-study, and federal loans.

The best way to get an estimate of how much financial aid a college will offer you and therefore how much you’ll really pay to go to that college is to use the college’s net price calculator. Colleges provide these tools on their websites. Net price calculators give you an estimate of your net price for a particular college (i.e., the cost of attendance minus the gift aid you might get). Learn more about net price.

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Should I consider working while I’m attending college?

Each student should consider their financial situation and the weight of their studies. Students who choose to work a moderate amount often do better academically. You may find that working a campus job related to your career goal is a good way to manage college costs, get experience, and engage with the university community.

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Can I try to get my aid award revised?

Some colleges are willing to review your financial aid package if your financial situation changes. Consider discussing these changes with the financial aid office if your family has experienced an unexpected decrease in income or increase in expenses since you applied for financial aid.

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