Financial Aid comes in Four Different Categories: Grants, Scholarships, Work-Study, and Loans (yes, loans count as Financial Aid).
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is completed during senior and is the first step to be eligible for the different types of financial aid at the college of their choice. Many schools will not allow students to be eligible for other Financial Aid without first completing the FAFSA.
The FAFSA Looks at:
- EFT – Estimated Family Contribution (Tax Information)
- College Credit Earned*
- If you take too many college credits that don’t go towards your major, it may make you ineligible for grants
- And more! Use the FAFSA4caster at fafsa.gov to estimate how much you might recieve in grants, work-study, and loans
Grants are sums of money for financial need you don’t need to pay back. The most common is the Pell Grant. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,345 for the 2020–21 award year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021).
*Millions of dollars of funding are left over over due to students not applying for the FAFSA.*
Scholarships are the most commonly known type of financial aid. There are scholarships for almost anything, but the most common are merit (academics, talent, leadership, etc.) or financial need based.
To best prepare yourself for scholarships:
- Participate in Clubs
- Do well in Classes
- Take the ACT/SAT multiple times
- Talk to your teachers
- Have a template essay you can tweak for multiple scholarships
- Research scholarships NOW and know deadlines
- Students must apply to a college before scholarships can be offered. Scholarship deadlines come fast!
- If you plan to take a year off (military/religious reasons) still apply and talk to the financial aid office to defer your scholarships until you return.
Work-Study is an opportunity for students to work part time with on-campus (and sometimes off campus) jobs.
- Tutoring Positions
- Fitness Center Positions
- Research Positions
- Computer Lab Positions
- Library Positions
Loans are borrowed money that has to be paid back with interest. Loans will be offered to you through the FAFSA, but you don’t have to accept them. Please be very cautious with loans and only take them out if you can repay them.
Subsidized – Interest doesn’t accrue while the student is in college
Unsubsidized – Interest begins to accrue as soon as loan is taken