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Financial aid is money to help you pay for college. It may be in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, work-study programs, or a combination. The aid comes from federal and state governments, colleges and universities, banks, and private organizations.

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Sources of Financial Aid


Colleges and universities offer financial aid programs for their students. Visit the financial aid webpages of every college you are considering and apply for all of the scholarships you think you might be eligible to receive.


Nonprofit organizations, foundations, and businesses often provide scholarships as a community service. To find these programs talk to your counselor.


Grants are free money that don’t have to be repaid. Grants come from the state and federal government and colleges. Generally, grants are based on financial need—i.e., awarded based on your family’s size and financial circumstances, like the Pell Grant. For 2019-20, the maximum grant available to students with the most financial need was $6,195.* To earn a Pell Grant, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen and must complete the FAFSA. *This amount may change every year.


Scholarships are also free money and don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships can come from a variety of places, from state and federal governments to colleges and private companies. Scholarships may be awarded based on your financial need, academic achievement, community service, athletic talent, and many other factors.


Loans are money that you borrow from a bank, government, or private lending company. A loan must be repaid with interest. Loans offered by the government often have lower interest rates and can be repaid over an extended period of time. Visit www.studentloans.gov for more information.


Work-Study allows you to receive funds through part-time employment while you are enrolled in college and can help you pay part of your college costs. Unlike other campus jobs, students apply for Work-Study by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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