Financial Aid & Scholarships for College
To be considered for financial aid, you have to apply. The process for applying for financial aid is similar to applying for a college, but they are separate processes. You can apply for financial aid before you know which college or university you have been accepted to.
Financial aid comes in the form of grants, scholarships, loads, and work study programs. Grants and scholarships are free money and do not have to be repaid. Both grants and scholarships can come from the federal and state government, colleges or universities, and private organizations. Loans have to be repaid. Loans can be obtained from the federal government or private banks. Work study is a program by which the federal government pays your employer part of the salary you earn. This makes it easier for you to find a job while in college.
In order to give yourself the best chance for all sources of financial aid, it is important to start by completing the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It is also salient to apply early. The FAFSA application is available starting on October 1st for the following academic year. You can apply for the FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov. Most college and universities will require you to complete the FAFSA before you can apply for their financial aid and scholarship programs. They may also require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE which is an online application for non-federal student financial aid. The application is available starting on October 1st for the following school year. You will need to establish a College Board account in order to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Private organizations also offer scholarships. However, never pay an application fee for financial aid. If someone or an organization is asking you to pay for financial aid or a scholarship application, it is a scam. If you need assistance looking for programs, speak with a counselor.