There are three main types of financial aid; Grants, Scholarships and Loans. While your eligibility for these are often determined by the results of the FAFSA, they can be quite different in the way they are awarded and renewed from year to year.
Grants and Scholarships
Grants and Scholarships are considered “gift aid”, meaning they will not need to be repaid. There are many sources for grants and scholarships including:
Almost all federal grants are awarded to students with financial need and they all require that the student complete the FAFSA. After the FAFSA information is received by the college or university they will determine the student’s award amount for the upcoming year.
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Many states offer grants to assist with college tuition costs for students who are staying in-state to attend school. These grants may be based on financial need or other qualifying characteristics: ethnicity, area of study, etc. Contact your state board of regents for programs that exist in your state.
Many colleges and university offer institutional scholarships that are funded by the institution or it’s donors. The criteria for awarding these scholarships may be based on merit (academic achievement), athletic participation, area of study, co-curricular interest, financial need, etc. The best source of information would be the college or university’s website or financial aid office. These scholarships may require a separate application and will have deadlines that you must meet.
There are many sources for outside scholarship funds that students can pursue. Below are listed a few recommended places to look including online searches and community organizations. The most important thing to remember is to meet all deadlines and complete the required steps to be considered. Scholarships may vary from full tuition to a few hundred dollars; some are one-time awards and some are renewable. Make sure you know the conditions you must meet to renew a scholarship from year to year.
Remember, most scholarship applications are free. Check out this resource form the department of education to help you avoid being scammed.
Federal student loans are an often a part of the financial aid package offered to students who complete the FAFSA. There are also private education loans that students may apply for to help fund their education. These loans vary as far as application requirements, interest rates and repayment options. Loans can be a good option for paying for your education, but it is important to understand the amounts you are borrowing and the terms of repayment.
Federal Loan Options:
These loans are funded by the federal government.
- Direct Subsidized Loan– loans for undergraduate students showing financial need
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan-loans for undergraduate, graduate and professional students, not based on financial need
- Direct PLUS Loan– loans for parents of dependent undergraduate students or graduate and professional students, not based on financial need
Private Education Loans:
These loans are nonfederal loans, made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency or school. The student contacts the lender directly to learn about application requirements, interest rates and repayment options. These loans differ from federal direct loans in that the terms of the loans are set by lender and are not federally regulated. Most financial aid offices can give you the lenders most often chosen by their student borrowers.