Financial Aid

What It Is and How to Apply

Many of us enjoy figuring out what college we want to attend, but figuring out how to pay for it is a different story. We want to go to school for less, but we don’t always understand our options. Are you ready to learn? This report shares the basics of financial aid — what it is and how to apply for it.

Simply put, financial aid is money that helps you pay for school. It comes in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs. Let’s take a closer look at each type below.

Financial aid is available to those who qualify. Program length varies by each institution’s specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guaranteed. The information in this packet is intended as a general overview, and not as financial or legal advice.


A college grant is money to use for school that you do not have to pay back. Here are some of the different types of grants that exist:
Public Federal and State Grants
Provide money to students who meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, the Federal Pell Grant Program is designed to give need-based grants to qualifying low-income students. Many states also have programs that provide educational grants to eligible students attending public state universities.
Private College Grants
Some private colleges award educational grants to students who meet specific criteria such as financial need; however, since these funds do not need to be repaid, schools may have strict eligibility requirements for grant recipients.
Educational Scholarships
Scholarships, like grants, are educational awards that do not need to be repaid. Several public and private organizations, education institutions, companies and community groups offer scholarships to qualifying students who meet select standards in categories such as scholastic achievement and athletic excellence.

Loans: Borrowed Money

While loans help you pay for school, they do have to be paid back. Here are some of the different types of loans that exist:
Public Student Loans
Public student loans such as the fixed-rate Federal Stafford Loan or the low-interest Federal Perkins Loan may assist eligible students with education expenses not covered by grants, scholarships, work-study or employment.
Private Student Loans
Many private education institutions offer loan programs for qualifying students. When used in combination with grants, scholarships or other forms of financial aid, private school loans may help students cover the various fees associated with earning an advanced degree.

Work Study: Earning Money

Some campus jobs, subsidized by the federal government, exist for students in financial need. Some of the benefits include work that is on campus or close by, schedules that coincide with class hours and earnings that don’t reduce future financial aid awards for the student.

What Costs Does Financial Aid Cover?

Students who receive financial aid can use it for more than school tuition. Here are a few other expenses that typically get covered >>
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation costs
  • School fees

How to Apply
for Financial Aid

Once you understand the different types of financial aid that exist, it’s time to get familiar with the application process.

Before starting the process GET ORGANIZED! Documents You Will Need:
  1. Social security number
  2. Driver’s license number
  3. Tax return — most recent
  4. W-2 forms
  5. Bank account balances
  6. If not a U.S. citizen — alien registration number
  7. If a minor — your parents’ social security numbers

While individual scholarship funds and private organizations have their own application procedures, the best way to find out if you qualify for federal student aid is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Each year, approximately 14 million FAFSAs are processed.

MORE Ways to Pay for School

  1. Tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers
  2. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) — an exam that certifies your existing knowledge and rewards you with college credits
  3. Random Government Programs — Some states waive tuition for senior citizens who want to attend public colleges!
  4. Professional, Service and Charitable Associations often sponsor scholarships and financial aid contests
  5. Industry-related scholarships are common in nursing and teaching where attractive educational benefits are offered in exchange for future service