Education and Financial Aid

The various information on this page has been compiled to help guide students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid.

The basics: getting started

Start gathering information early. Free information is readily available from:

  • High school counselors
  • College and career school financial aid offices (where you plan to attend)
    Local and college libraries
  • U.S. Department of Education Web page
  • Other Internet sites (search terms student financial aid OR assistance)

Ask questions: counselors may know if you have exceptional circumstances that affect your eligibility.

Keep copies of all forms and correspondence: you must reapply for aid each year.

Parents of students: save money long before your child attends college.

Good overviews:

Beware of scholarship scams — don’t pay for free information!

Student aid and where it comes from: Basic assistance categories

Financial need-based

  • Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can– financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.

Non need-based

  • Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children.

Federal Student Aid:

Loans are the most common federal aid and must be repaid when you graduate or leave college.

Scholarships/grants are mostly need-based and require no repayment:

Other grants, scholarships, and fellowships, mostly graduate level:

“Congressional” scholarships:

  • Named for Member of Congress or other prominent individual (such as Byrd Honors Scholarships, Fulbright fellowships)
  • Merit-based and highly competitive
  • Members of Congress do not play a role in selecting recipients
  • Search by Beneficiary in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

Work study programs allow you to earn money while in school:

States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.

Colleges and universities provide some 20% of aid, which is mostly need-based.

  • Check university Web sites and the institution’s financial aid office when you apply for admission.

Private foundations, corporations, and organizations offer scholarships or grants:

Targeted aid for special groups

Interested in public service?

Federal assistance programs seek to encourage people to work in geographic areas or professions where there’s a particular need (such as doctors in underserved areas); encourage underrepresented groups to enter a particular profession; and provide aid in exchange for services provided (such as military service).

Aid for private K-12 education

Unfortunately there is no direct federal assistance for K-12 education. It is best to check with the schools themselves:

Repaying your loans

After college, the federal government has ways to help you repay your loans.

States, schools, and some private employers provide help in repaying loans in exchange for public service.