Financial aid for college comes in four forms: loans, grants, scholarships, and the federal work-study program. The federal government, individual schools and states, and outside organizations are the most common entities offering student aid.
Sources of Financial Aid
Federal Financial Aid
The government offers three types of financial aid through the FSA, all of which your child can apply for by filing his or her FAFSA®.
The government offers four types of need-based grants through FAFSA®. Grants, unlike loans, do not need to be paid back.
Pell Grant – This is the most common federal grant. Given to students who demonstrate financial need, the maximum Pell Grant award for 2021-2022 is $6,345.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – The FSEOG is given to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Students can receive up to $4,000 a year from the FSEOG based on their financial need and their school’s available funding.
TEACH Grant – The TEACH grant is awarded to students who are pursuing a teaching career at a college that participates in the grant program. Students must agree to work in a high-need field or teach in a low-income school district for at least four of their first eight years following graduation. The maximum award is $4,000.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is awarded to students who lost a parent serving in the US Armed Forces following the events of 9/11 and did not meet the financial requirement for a Pell Grant. The maximum award for 2020-2021 is $6,345.
The FSA offers the following student loans, all of which will need to be paid back once the student has left college.
Direct Subsidized Loans – Available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans – Available to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Students do not need to demonstrate financial need to qualify.
Direct PLUS Loans – Available to graduate and professional students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students.
For more information about student loan limits, click here.
Your child can apply for a work-study job when filing his or her FAFSA®. Under this program, your child will be paid to work a part-time job for their school. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need are eligible.
Just like the federal government, state governments also offer financial aid programs for students. Each state offers its own scholarships, grants, and loans to help students pay for college.
Many schools will use a student’s FAFSA® to determine state financial aid offers, but each state has its own requirements. Confirm your state’s requirements with your school’s financial aid office.
Scholarships are merit-based financial aid awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional performance or qualities. Like grants, scholarships do not need to be paid back.
There are thousands of scholarships given out each year for academic ability, valuable skills and talents, and social and civic commitments. Check this database to see which scholarships your child is eligible to apply for.
Private Student Loans
The last source of financial aid for your child is private student loans. Private student loans are typically more difficult to obtain than federal loans and often offer worse terms.
Your child can apply for a private student loan with a bank or credit union. Depending on your child’s age and financial history, you may need to cosign his or her private student loan.