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Types of Financial Aide
Scholarships & Grants
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Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money ~ financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based.
Grants and scholarships can come from the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization. Do your research, apply for any grants or scholarships you might be eligible for, and be sure to meet application deadlines!
Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing an enrollment period such as a semester.
If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest.
If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you understand who is making the loan and the terms and conditions of the loan. Student loans can come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources. Learn more about the differences between federal and private student loans.
Federal Work Study
Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.
Here’s a quick overview of Federal Work-Study:
- It provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school.
- It’s available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need.
- It’s available to full-time or part-time students.
- It’s administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program. Check with your school's financial aid office to find out if your school participates.
Basic Eligibility Requirements for Financial Aid
General eligibility requirements are that you must:
- demonstrate financial need The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend. (for most programs);
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen A U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island), U.S. permanent resident (who has an I-151, I-551 or I-551C Resident Card), or an
individual who has an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing specific designations.;
- have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
- be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
- be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student A student who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential offered by that
institution. To be eligible for federal student aid, you must generally be a regular student. in an eligible degree or certificate program;
- be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan A federal student loan, made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, for which eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans,
Direct PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans are types of Direct Loans. Program funds;
- maintain satisfactory academic progress A school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution. Check with your school to find out its standards. in college or career school;
- sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid Financial aid from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA to apply for this aid. (FAFSA) stating that
- show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by:
If you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012, you may show you’re qualified to obtain a higher education by:
- passing an approved ability-to-benefit test (if you don’t have a diploma or GED, a college can administer a test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school);
- completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate (you may not receive aid while earning the six credit hours); or
- meeting other federally approved standards your state establishes.
For information about these criteria, talk to the financial aid office The office at a college or career school that is responsible for preparing and communicating information on financial aid. This office helps students apply for and receive student loans, grants, scholarships and other types of financial aid. at your school.
Most male students must be registered with Selective Service to receive federal student aid. You also must register if you are a male and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. If you are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Republic of Palau, you are exempt from registering. You can call Selective Service toll-free at 1-888-655-1825 for general information about registering, or register online at www.sss.gov or via the FAFSA.
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