Federal student aid is financial help for students enrolled in eligible programs at participating schools to cover school expenses (a four-year or two-year public or private educational institution, a career school or trade school), including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Most federal aid is need-based. The three most common types of aid are grants, loans and work-study.
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA is available in October of every year and should be completed as early as possible. Many schools, particularly private institutions, may ask for an additional school specific form or the CSS Profile which is found at https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile. Be sure to pay attention to the requirements and deadlines of the individual colleges on your list.
Many schools (soon to be all due to recent legislation), will have a financial aid calculator available on their own websites. However, both the Department of Education and the Collegeboard offer a couple of reliable financial aid calculators that can give you an idea of your expected family contribution (EFC) and potential aid.
Scholarships are available from many sources, both colleges themselves and outside organizations. Within the state of Florida, Bright Futures is available for eligible students and there are many local community scholarships. For national scholarships, there are also many websites that compile lists of scholarships, both merit and need based. The best sites are completely free and allow you to create a profile that helps match you with the scholarships available through the website’s database. Feel free to check out the sites and check in with your counselor about other additional opportunities.