The cost of attending college is made up of expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books and supplies, and miscellaneous living expenses. Financial aid helps put college within reach for millions of students, unfortunately it is common for students to be unaware of the financial assistance that is available to them.
There are four types of financial aid: grants, employment (work-study), loans, and scholarships:
- Grants – money that does not have to be paid back. It is usually awarded on the basis of financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Employment (work-study) – allows students to earn money to help pay educational expenses while receiving valuable work experience. Payment is through a paycheck.
- Loans – money that the student and/or parents borrow from the federal government to help pay college expenses. You are only able to borrow an amount for what is needed. Repayment begins after education is finished.
- Scholarships – an amount of money that is given by a school, an organization, etc., to a student to help pay for education. Scholarships do not have to be paid back.
With the four types of financial aid, students are almost guaranteed to be allotted assistance in some form to help offset the cost college. It is important that students continue to seek aid and apply for both FAFSA and scholarships each year.
FAFSA is a standard form that collects demographic and financial information about the student and family and is based on previous year’s income. It must be filed for grant, work-study, and loan eligibility to be determined. FAFSA can be filed electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov.