Basic Financial Aid Overview

Financial aid is money given or lent by a source to help you cover your education costs after high school. Financial Aid makes up the difference between what families can afford and what it will cost to go to the college of choice. There are many types of financial aid and they are generally divided into the following categories:

Grants are based on financial need and do not have to be repaid. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions.

Work-study are programs that provide jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.

Low-interest or interest-free loans are loans that must be repaid and are offered in a variety of programs.

Scholarships are monetary awards based on academic merit or excellence in a specific area of study or discipline, and these awards do not have to be paid back. Students can apply for many different scholarships from a variety of sources, including government, post-secondary institutions, private industry and service organizations.


Grants generally come in two forms:

Merit-based financial aid is awarded to students who have outstanding abilities, talents, and/or achievements. When awarding merit-based aid such as scholarships, the family's financial situation is not taken into consideration. The award is based entirely on the student's merit.

Need-based financial aid is awarded to students whose families do not have sufficient financial resources to pay for college education. Need-based financial aid goes to students who need help paying for college. The family's financial circumstance is the only thing that is considered to determine eligibility. The student's academic record is not a factor.