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Financial Aid

The cost to attend college has been steadily climbing.  Many full-time students receive some type of financial aid.  The information below can assist you as you begin learning about and applying for financial aid.

Sources of Financial Aid

Types of Financial Aid

Applying for Financial Aid

Finding Scholarships

Sources of Financial Aid

There are basically five sources of financial aid available:

  • Federal Government
  • State Government
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Private organizations (corporations, clubs, religious organizations, etc.)
  • Banks and other lending organizations

Types of Financial Aid

The sources listed above provide aid through several methods:

  • Grants
  • no payback required
  • usually based on family need
  • Scholarships
  • no payback required
  • based on family need or merit
  • merit awards are often based upon academics, a skill or interest
  • individual colleges and universities often have a list of scholarships that students may apply for
  • Loans
  • must be payed back, with interest
  • federal and state governments often offer low interest loans based upon need
  • Work/Study Programs
  • usually based on need
  • Federal Work/Study Programs for students who demonstrate need
  • some schools provide work programs for students

Applying for Financial Aid

There are two main forms that must be completed to apply for financial aid--whether you are interested in government aid or assistance from a particular school or organization.  The FAFSA is tied directly to the family’s income as reported to the IRS and does not require much additional information.  The CSS PROFILE requires more information from the family.  Almost all families should complete the FAFSA; the CSS Profile is often required by private school.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be completed to be considered for financial aid from the federal government, state governments and many colleges.  The form may be filed beginning January 1 of the year you plan to attend college.  State governments often have their own deadlines for filing the FAFSA; California requires that it be filed by March 2.

FAFSA information and application

Excellent FAFSA  information source for parents: 

 FAFSA for Counselors

Estimate your eligibility for federal financial aid:

FAFSA Forecaster

The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is used by many private colleges and organizations.  Check each college to determine when they require the completed form.  The College Board charges a small fee to provide each entity you select a copy of the form.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

Finding Scholarships

The Center has a list of scholarships available for viewing at Scholarships, Nominations, and Contests.  Searching the web for information is also a great way to find scholarships.  A good website to begin with is FastWeb.