Financial Aid: Applying for Financial Aid Q&A

Did you know? More than 75 percent of students get help paying for college.

In fact, over 13 million students receive more than $120 billion in federal student aid each year — and that’s just from the federal government! Students like you may also be eligible for financial aid from states, colleges, and/or private organizations.

So, we’re here to tell you: Go for it and apply! But before you do, check out our financial aid Q&A:

What is financial aid? >
What are the types of financial aid? >
How do you apply for financial aid? >
When do you apply for financial aid? >
Where can you go to learn more? >

What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money that’s given to you or loaned to you to help you pay for your college expenses.

What are the types of financial aid?
Here’s what you need to know about the four types of financial aid:

  1. Scholarships
    A scholarship is money given to you based on certain characteristics or qualities, such as academic achievement or athletic ability. Scholarships are sometimes referred to as “gift aid” because they do not need to be repaid.

  2. Grants
    A grant is a type of financial aid that’s given to you, and you do not have to pay back (so it’s also considered “gift aid”). Grants are most often awarded based on your financial need.

  3. Loans
    A loan is money that you borrow from a bank, government, or lending company, and that needs to be paid back over an agreed period of time. You’ll also almost always pay interest — or a fee/fees for borrowing the money — on your loan(s).

    Tip: Loans offered by the federal government often have lower interest rates and more flexible payment options, as compared to loans provided by banks or lending companies.

  4. Work-study
    Work-study is a federal financial aid program that provides you with a part-time job (usually on-campus in the library, dining hall, or lab, for example, at the school you’re attending) to help pay for your college expenses.

You may qualify for one or more of these types of financial aid, so it’s very important to complete and submit your financial aid application(s) — you don’t want to miss out!

How do you apply for financial aid?
You apply for federal aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to federal aid, including grants, loans, and work-study funds, your FAFSA may be used to determine your eligibility for state and/or school financial aid.

For help filling out your FAFSA, go to fafsa.gov >

You may also complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, which is a financial aid application offered by the College Board, and used by more than 400 colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs to award non-federal aid.

For help completing your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, and to view a list of participating colleges, go to cssprofile.collegeboard.org >

In some cases, you can apply for financial aid directly from the colleges to which you’re applying, the state or local government, or private groups and organizations. Be sure to review the application requirements for these options.

Remember: In order to qualify, you need to apply!

When do you apply for financial aid?

You can submit your financial aid applications (FAFSA and CSS) beginning on Oct. 1 of the year before you plan to go to college. For example, if you will be starting college in the fall of 2019, then you can submit these application(s) beginning on Oct. 1, 2018.

Other college, state, and/or private financial aid application deadlines may vary — be sure to review the application requirements for these options.

Tip: Financial aid may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you submit your application(s), the better your chance of getting the financial aid you need.

Where can you go to learn more?
There are many resources for you on your path to college — and as you apply for financial aid. When you need help answering questions about financial aid, we recommend the following:

  1. Go to the college’s website
    You’ll discover lots of helpful information about a college’s financial aid policies, procedures, and deadlines on its website. For instance, you’ll see how many students receive financial aid and find out what forms (like the FAFSA or CSS) are required.

    We also encourage you to check our member’s financial aid webpages. All Coalition schools offer responsible student financial aid, so they’re proven to be affordable for students like you.

  2. Contact the college’s financial aid office
    A college’s financial aid office is responsible for preparing and sharing information about financial aid, so it’s a good place to get answers to your financial aid questions — and all it takes is a phone call or email!

  3. Talk to your counselor
    … or teacher, coach, or other trusted adult. They are there to help answer any questions you might have, whether it’s where to apply or how to pay. And, they may be able to give you advice based on their own experiences applying for and receiving financial aid. You never know until you ask – so ask away!

There are also many websites where you can find useful tips and helpful advice about financial aid.

Additional Resources
Take advantage of all that we have to offer! With MyCoalition, you can store important high school documents and files in your digital Locker, ask for input from trusted family and friends, and even apply to schools with one easy-to-use application.

While you’re there, don’t forget to review our handy financial aid glossary (located in the MyCoalition Counselor section)!

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