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About Financial Aid

Financial Aid refers to funding for educational expenses provided through grants, loans, scholarships, and work study programs.  These expenses also include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, etc.  Financial aid is available for students who seek education at a college, university, or private school.  Financial Aid, not to be confused with student loans, is classified into two different categories based on different criteria through which it is rewarded.  There is merit-based financial aid, and need-based financial aid.  Visit our webpage about Free Stimulus Money for College for new and updated information! Also check out our Top Military Schools List 

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Financial Aid Options
Merit-Based Financial Aid Merit-based scholarships include both scholarships awarded by outside organizations, or by the individual college or university itself. Typically awarded for outstanding academic achievements, merit scholarships can also be awarded for personal characteristics such as a special talent or leadership potential. Merit-based scholarships can also be obtained because of group affiliation (such as Boys Club, YMCA, etc.) Many times, merit scholarships are awarded without regard for the financial need of the applicant. There are many colleges that automatically consider merit scholarships for every admitted student. However at other schools, a separate application process is required.

Need-Based Financial
AidNeed-based financial aid is figured and awarded on the basis of the financial need of the student. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) plays the largest role in the need-based aid process by determining federal, state, and institutional need-based aid eligibility. At private institutions however, a supplementary application may be necessary for institutional need-based aid.

More information about The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form specific form that can be filled out on an annually basis by current and anticipating university students. This includes both undergraduate and graduate students. This form can also be filled out by the parents of the student. This form is used to determine the student’s eligibility for federal student financial aid. This aid including Pell grants, PLUS loans, Stafford loans, and work-study programs. Most states and schools use the information from the FAFSA to award non-financial aid.

The FAFSA consists of several questions regarding the student’s finances, as well as the finances of his or her parents. These questions are developed into a formula that determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Determining the EFC is based on the family size, income, number in college, and assets. Assets play a key role in determining the EFC, except for retirement and 401K. This is where the parents also play a large role unless the student is under the age of eighteen. That then relieves the parents of financial responsibility.

Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest Federal Stafford and/or parent plus loans. This eligibility is regardless of income or circumstances, provided that a student:

  • Is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen
  • Has a high school diploma or GED
  • Has a valid social security number
  • Does not owe refunds on any federal student grants
  • Is registered with the U.S. Selective Service (if you are a male aged 18-25)
  • Is not in default of any student loans
  • Completes a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for educational purposes
  • Has not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs during a period in which federal aid was being received

The FAFSA Checklist:

  • Drivers License, Social Security Card, or Alien Registration Card
  • Income tax returns, W-2 forms, and 1040 of the previous year (if married, include spouse documents)
  • Parent’s info if dependent
  • Records of untaxed income (Welfare, Social Security income, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, etc.)
  • Current bank statements, records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investments
  • Mortgage information

You are independent if:

  • Married
  • Grad or Professional Student
  • Orphan, ward of court or was until age 18
  • 24 years or older by Dec. 31 of award year
  • Veteran of the Armed Forces of the U.S.
  • Have legal dependents other than spouse
  • Student whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination because of unusual circumstances

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