Student Financial Aid

Going to college is expensive, but there are a number of ways to pay for a higher education. While student loans and scholarships are one choice, other types of student financial aid are also available and should be considered by students.

Student Financial Aid – Federal

The federal government provides financial assistance to students with economic need through Pell grants. Unlike loans, these grants do not need to be paid back. However, they are not available to everyone.

Pell grants are awarded to students based on financial need. The determination of need comes from how much schooling will cost and how much the student's family will be able to contribute. The family contribution is based on their income, not necessarily on how much money they will actually be spending on the student's education.

Student financial aid administrators at the student's college will provide other information used to determine a student's eligibility, such as academic progress and academic status (half-time, full-time, etc.). To earn Pell grants, students must continue doing well in school. The student's status also determines how much money he or she will receive. For example, a student taking only one class would not receive as much grant money as someone going full-time.

The maximum Pell grant contribution is usually around $4000 per year, which still may not be enough to fund an entire college education but could be a good start.

Student Financial Aid – State

Most states also offer student financial aid programs to help their citizens cover the costs of universities. These programs offer grants to students who have a financial need as well. In most cases, students who qualify for a Pell grant will also be entitled to student financial aid through their state.

To learn more about each state's requirements, visit the listing of State Higher Education Agencies or talk to the financial aid office of the university being attended.

More Information on Student Financial Aid

To qualify for either state or federal grants, students must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students may also want to learn more about their other options by reading “College Student Loans” and “Direct Student Loans.”