Financial Aid

What is federal student aid?

Federal student aid comes from the federal government.  It is money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses for college, career school, or graduate school.  It covers expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

There are three main categories of federal student aid:  grants, work-study, and loans.  

  • Grants are like scholarships and are not expected to be paid back.
  • Work-study awards will supply you with a job on campus and your earnings can be used to pay for tuition or any living expenses.  
  • Loans will need to be paid back with interest. There are various types of loans and you will want to learn more about the loans you are offered before you accept them.  

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1st.  Apply online at Colleges each have their own preferred filing date.  Check with the college(s) you are applying to for information on their preferred filing date.  

Have the following documents/information with you when you apply:

  • Social Security Number (and alien registration number if you have one)
  • Dates for student and parent(s):  birth, death, marriage, and divorce
  • 2016 W-2s and tax returns
  • Most recent bank balances
  • Amounts of any other income
  • Value of any other assets like stocks, bonds and mutual funds

You will need to create a FSA ID when you apply for financial aid.  Document your username and password in a safe place once you create your FSA ID.  It is not easy to retrieve this information.  

How will the amount of my Financial Aid award be determined?

Your eligibility is determined by the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending minus your expected family contribution.  The financial aid office at your college will determine how much and what type of financial aid you will be offered.  In your financial aid application you may select up to ten schools to receive your financial aid information.  You will then follow up with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend to finalize your financial aid package.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

A subsidized loan is a loan which does NOT accrue interest during an authorized period.  An unsubsidized loan begins accruing interest from the day it is disbursed.

What is the difference between a private loan and an alternative loan?

They are the same thing!  These terms can be used interchangeably to refer to non-federal student loans.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes!  In order to receive federal student aid you will need to reapply using the FAFSA each year you attend school.  The first time you apply will take longer due to the amount of information you must enter.  The following years should be easier as the application retains your information year to year.

Do I have to reapply for private loans?

A new application must be submitted each year.  You will want to contact your private loan lender for further information.  

Helpful Links


Information on Financial Aid:


College Net Price Calculator:

FAFSA Estimate Calculator: