Q: What types of financial aid are available?
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.
Grants: Financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Generally, grants are for undergraduate students, and the grant amount is based on need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status.
Loans: Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Both undergraduate and graduate students may borrow money. Parents may also borrow to pay education expenses for dependent undergraduate students. Maximum loan amounts depend on the student’s year in school.
Work-Study: Lets you earn money while enrolled in school to help pay for educational expenses
Q: How do I apply for federal student aid?
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 cssprofile.collegeboard.org. Be sure to pay attention to the requirements and deadlines of the individual colleges on your list.
Q: Can I calculate how much financial aid I’ll be eligible for?
All colleges have a Net Price Calculator available on their website. However, both the Department of Education and the College Board offer 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, including the colleges themselves and outside organizations. In Florida, Bright Futures is available for eligible students and there are many local community scholarships. For national scholarships, there are also a variety of websites that compile lists of scholarships, both merit and need-based. The best sites are free and allow you to create a profile that helps match you with scholarships available through the website’s database. Fast Web | FinAid | Cappex | MeritAid | Raise.me