College Planning » Financial Aid Headquarters

Financial Aid Headquarters

This page will help you to learn about state and federal aid, research scholarships, and apply online for some aid programs.  EVERYONE should apply for financial aid regardless of family size or income.  Start with the FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Aid.  The FAFSA is always FREE and should be filled out by every college-bound senior.  You can apply online directly at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.  The FAFSA can not be submitted until the spring of the student's senior year, because it is based on taxes for the previous year.  However, you can calculate your EFC (estimated family contribution) here.

 

Types of aid

Student loans
Student loans are the most common type of financial aid.  There are three main types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Parent Plus loans.  Subsidized loans are need based and are in the student's name.  The student is responsible for paying for these loans after graduation.  With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest while the student is in school, for six months after the student leaves school, and if the student qualifies to have payments deferred.  Unsubsidized loans are not need based, and are also in the student's name.  With unsubsidized loans, the interest accrues while the student is in school and the student is responsible for repaying the loan and the interest after he or she graduates.  Federal Plus loans are taken by parents - not students.  Parents are responsible for repaying these loans and repayment starts 60 months after the loans are disbursed.  Find more information on the different types of student loans here.
What makes student loans different from private loans or lines of credit?
  - Student loans are locked into a low interest rate (currently 6.8% for Federal Stafford loans) for the life of the loan
  - The Federal Government backs the loan, which allows students without an extensive credit history or income to qualify for the loans
  - Student loan interest is tax deductible
  - Certain programs for specific professions (teachers, nurses, social workers) offer loan forgiveness.  These programs only look at federal student loans - not credit card debt or private loans.
  - Federal loans offer a variety of repayment schedules to meet the needs of students after they graduate.  For more information on repayment schedules and an estimate of monthly payments, click here.

 

Grants
Grants are financial awards provided to students based on need.  These awards DO NOT need to be repaid.  Grants are provided by the state or federal government.  Students need to meet specific requirements to be awarded grants, which usually include financial need (as determined by FAFSA), enrollment in an undergraduate program, full or half-time enrollment, and sometimes GPA requirement.  For more specific information on different grants, click here.  Students who complete the FAFSA are automatically considered for state and federal grants.  Information on federal grant can be found on the federal aid website.

 

Scholarships
Scholarships are financial awards provided to the student by the government, individual organizations, and specific schools.  They can be need based or merit (ability) based.  Scholarships DO NOT need to be repaid.  Scholarships generally require a separate application in addition to the FAFSA and may having varying due dates.  For a listing of need and merit based scholarships, click here.

 

Professional Incentive Programs
These programs are merit based programs that encourage students to serve in specific fields or careers by offering loan forgiveness/repayment in exchange for years of service.  These programs generally do not apply until after the student has completed college and started to work in the field, but they may factor in to the student's degree/career choice.