If it is your first time, second time, third time, or more as a college student, it doesn't matter. Financial aid information or Financial Aid 101 is always great to have at your disposal. Would you like to start at the basics? Let's do so.
What is financial aid? Financial aid is simply any type of money that helps you pay for college.
What are the forms of money you can use to pay for college? Take a look at the following:
- Grants - money you receive and do not have to pay back for college. Generally, grants are given on the basis of need, merit or employment benefit. If you show that you need help financially for college, then you may be able to receive a grant based on your need. Your need is usually assessed once you complete the FAFSA or CSS Profile. Receiving a grant based on merit could be because you received good grades in school, performed well athletically or in other areas. In receiving employment benefit, maybe you or your parent gets reduced or free tuition through your place or parent(s) place of employment.
- Education Loans - money lent to either you or your parent to pay for college. Unlike grants, you must pay this money back. Examples of different loans are the Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, Parent Loans and Private Loans.
- Work Study - a job or jobs you can find working on your college campus. Work study jobs allow you to do just that--work and study. There are many benefits to working on campus. Students typically work 15 hours a week.
- Contests/Competitions - a game, match or any other display of talent or skill where you are able to receive money. Many times you can find on the web or just in your hometown writing contests, math contests or athletic competitions to enter, which can help you earn money for college. Be creative in finding ways to pay for college. Other creative ways are bake sales, garage sales and car washes.
A huge component to Financial Aid 101 is completing your FAFSA. FAFSA is the Free Application for Student Federal Aid. This application determines the amount of money your family is expected to contribute to your college education. This form is used to help determine grants, loans, work study and other forms of money for you to pay for college. The FAFSA should be one of the first forms you complete when looking to receive money for college.
The CSS Profile is somewhat like the FAFSA, except this application is a service of the College Board. Many private colleges like students to submit their CSS Profile; this may be in addition to the FAFSA.
This is financial Aid 101--just the basics. If you find you need more help with financial aid for college, see our solutions to any financial and questions or concerns.