Financial aid available to pay or offset the cost of college comes in many forms. From federal financial aid to scholarships, those seeking to attend college has many options but it requires a great deal of time and work to maximized your financial aid package.
There are three basic categories of financial aid:
- Scholarships and grants which are called gift aid that is based on merit or financial need and does not need to be repaid.
- Loans and work-study in which loans require repayment of borrowed funds with interest.
- Work-study which requires the exchange of your time for a paycheck to offset college expenses.
There are four sources of financial aid:
- Federal government
- State government
- Private (community, religious, cultural associations, corporations, alumni groups, etc)
- Institutional (high schools, colleges, universities)
Federal Aid Programs — Federal programs are based on financial need and are the largest single source offinancial aid for college. These aids can be in the form of federal loans or grants.
State Aid Programs —Most states support various aid programs (both need-based and merit). Generally, eligibility for state need-based programs follows the federal guidelines and typically given as grants.
Grants and Scholarships — These are awards based on merit or merit plus need and don’t have to be repaid. Search for scholarships.
Student Loans — Funds loaned through the government, lending institution or college. Interest rates vary by program. For federal loans, qualifying is based on need without paying interest while in school. Loan programs also are available to eligible parents to help with college expenses of their qualifying children.
Military programs — The military offers several options to help you pay for college.
Work-study programs — Jobs that allow students to earn money toward their education while they are enrolled in school. Students can sometimes get jobs related to their program of study.