Financial aid is money to help make college or career school affordable. Financial aid can come from federal, state, school, and private sources to help you pay for college or career school.
There are three types of federal student aid:
- Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
- Work-study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school
- Loans—borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 13 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.
Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do.
Apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. And remember, the first F in “FAFSA” stands for “free”—you should never pay to fill out the FAFSA form!
Remember, even if you’re not eligible for federal aid, you might be eligible for financial aid from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information.
Many schools offer financial aid from their own funds. Find out what might be available to you:
- Visit your school’s financial aid page on its website, or ask someone in the financial aid office.
- Ask at the department that offers your course of study; they might have a scholarship for students in your major.
- Fill out any applications the school requires for its own aid, and meet the deadlines.
Many private and not-for-profit organizations offer scholarships or grants to help students pay for college or career school. This free money can make a real difference in how affordable your education is.
You also might get financial assistance via:
- Aid for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran;
- Tax benefits for education;
- An Education Award for community service with AmeriCorps;
- Educational and Training Vouchers for current and former foster care youth; and/or
- scholarships and loan repayment through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and National Health Service Corps.
Finally, it’s worth noting that in addition to financial aid, you also should think about what you can do to lower your costs when you go to college.
Source: U.S. Department of Education: sutendtaid.ed.gov