These options provide money for your education that you don't have to pay back. Free money or gift aid consists of two types:
- Grants: This type of gift aid are generally awarded based on a need assessment determined by the federal government or a state government and in some instances combined with academic performance or program of study.
- Scholarships: This type of free money is generally made available to students who demonstrate or show potential for distinction, usually in a special talent or academic performance. Scholarships are generally awarded by the school itself or private corporations, organizations, churches, and civic groups.
This financial aid option requires you to work while in college. The Federal Work-Study Program is a program of employment that provides jobs for students both on and off campus.
These sources require you to pay back the money you receive. Usually, you pay back the money when you're no longer in school.
- Federally funded student loans: These educational loans include the Federal Perkins, The Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, and its counterpart, The Federal Direct Student Loan (Direct Loan) Program.
- Private/alternative loans: These educational loans offered by private lending institutions are not based on the completion of a federal financial aid application. These loans tend to be more expensive and have limited repayment options, but may be used to supplement federal student borrowing.
You may use any combination of these financial aid resources based on the eligibility requirements. The best place to get help and information is your college's financial aid office. Talk with someone in that office as soon as you can. There are application deadlines for some financial aid programs and you'll want to give yourself time to complete your applications and submit them before any deadline passes.