Financial Aid 101

With planning and organization, you can use federal financial aid to help make college a reality. Start here to find out more.

  1. Find out about Federal Student Aid, who gets it, and how to apply.
  2. Complete your FAFSA: You and your family have the primary responsibility of paying for college. When those funds aren't enough, you should look to other resources. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the federal financial aid process. Colleges and universities use information from the FAFSA to determine financial aid awards for students.

Federal Aid consists of the following types:

  • Pell Grant - Grants are considered “gift aid,” which is aid that does not have to be repaid.
  • Student Loans - Student loans are a form of financial aid that must be repaid after graduation or you stop attending school.
  • Work-Study - This program provides funds that are earned through part-time employment to assist students in paying for expenses while enrolled in school.

You can find help completing your FAFSA at colleges and universities, your high school counselor, or online.

Federal financial aid awards are determined based on the information that you provide in the FAFSA. You do not have to accept any award offered to you. Ask the financial aid staff at your school if you have any questions about your federal financial aid awards.

Applying for Federal Student Aid is free. If you go to any site that requires payment, you are not on the official FAFSA site. Beware of organizations that charge a fee to submit your application, or to find you money for school. Generally, any help that you pay for can be received free from your school or Federal Student Aid.