The Quick Guide To College Financial Aid
Financial aid can be a confusing topic for many college students—but no more!
Here is a simple guide to help you find, understand, and apply for federal financial aid.
1. What Is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money awarded to students to cover their college expenses.
Where Does Financial Aid Come From?
A. Federal Grants: $48.9B
B. Federal Loans: $95.9B
C. State Grants: $9.5B
D: Scholarships And Employer Grants: $16.1B
E: Institutional Grants: $48.2B
Source: Trends in Student Aid website (trends.collegeboard.com), 2013-2014.
2. Types Of Federal Financial Aid
These are examples of financial aid that you could get from completing the FAFSA.
A. Federal Pell Grants (Max $5,775/year)
B. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (Max $4,000/year)
C. Direct Subsidized Loans (amounts vary per year)
D. Direct Unsubsidized Loans (amounts vary per year)
E. PLUS Loans (amount varies based on cost of attendance)
3. Who Should Apply For Federal Financial Aid?
Everyone going to college
Even if you think that you don’t qualify for financial aid, still apply! You may be missing out on grants, loans, and scholarships that you actually do qualify for.
Use the FAFSA4caster tool to figure out if you are eligible for federal financial aid.
4. What Is The FAFSA?
The federal government distributes grants and loans to students with or without financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the application that students must complete in order to be considered for those awards. Your school will also use this information on the FAFSA to determine if you qualify for any additional financial aid.
5. How And When To Apply For Financial Aid
When: FAFSA application opens on January 1 every year.
Step 1: Complete the FAFSA, ASAP!
Step 2: List schools to send results to on FAFSA application
Step 3: Call school or check the financial aid office's website for financial aid deadlines, scholarship deadlines, etc.
Step 4: Review financial aid award letter.
Step 5: Rinse, repeat: You must reapply for financial aid every year to continue to receive financial aid from any school.