Discover new ways to help pay for school.
Help ease the burden of college expenses with all the information you need regarding financial aid, from filling out your FAFSA forms to applying for student loans.
What is financial aid?
Financial aid helps students and their families pay for college. This financial assistance covers educational expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are several types of financial aid:
Scholarships are essentially free money to pay for school. They are merit-based, which means scholarships are awarded on academic, athletic and extracurricular performance. Sometimes, they're awarded for simply filling out a form in a scholarship sweepstakes.
Grants are like scholarships in that they are free money to pay for school. However, rather than being awarded on the basis of merit, grants are given to students and families who demonstrate financial need.
Unlike scholarships and grants, loans have to be paid back after graduation. They can be funded by the federal or state governments as well as private lenders. As a rule of thumb, it's always better to exhaust federal loan options before seeking funds from private lenders.
Work study is another form of financial aid; but in this case, students can actually work part-time in order to pay for educational expenses. These jobs can typically be found on campus and offer flexibility around class, extracurricular and final exam schedules.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
How do I apply?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application used by virtually all two and four-year colleges, universities, and career schools for awarding Federal, state and college-funded student aid.
Create a FSA ID
An FSA ID is a username and password combination needed to access and complete the FAFSA. It also acts as an electronic signature for the document. Students and parents each require their own separate FSA ID. Learn more about the FSA ID here.
Submit the FAFSA
The FAFSA should be submitted as soon as possible after its availability on October 1. That's because most federally and state-funded aid is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. A FAFSA checklist is the best way to prepare to complete the form.
Many colleges require additional forms in order to apply for financial aid. These forms enable a college or university to get a more accurate picture of a student's financial circumstances. Often referred to as "supplemental forms", they can be found on a college's financial aid website.
Review your SAR
The Student Aid Report (SAR) is delivered a few days after the FAFSA is completed. It contains the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), after reviewing the student and/or family's financial need to pay for school, as well as other basic financial aid information.
Compare award letters
Once the FAFSA is filed and the EFC is determined, schools can generate a financial aid package for a student. Financial aid award letters will arrive from each school, and students and their families should compare all of them to see which school is offering the best financial aid package.
What if I need more?
Scholarships, grants and federal student loan options are great ways to help you afford the cost of attendance, but oftentimes are not enough. Private student loans provided by banks, credit unions, and other lenders can help bridge that gap.
More Financial Aid Resources
Access helpful resources covering scholarships, financial aid, student life, and more.
Make completing or renewing your FAFSA easy; here's a list of all of these necessary items you need to have handy.
September 7, 2022