Types of Financial Aid

Financial assistance to attend college comes in many forms.

Federal Aid Programs—Federal programs are based on financial need. They are the largest single source of financial aid for college.

State Aid Programs—Most states support various aid programs (both need-based and merit). Generally, eligibility for state need-based programs follows the federal guidelines.

Grants and Scholarships —Awards based on merit or merit plus need. They don't have to be repaid.

Loans—Funds loaned through a lending institution or college. Interest rates vary by program. For federal loans, qualifying students—based on need—will not have to pay interest while in school. Loan programs also are available to eligible parents to help with college expenses of their qualifying children.

Military programs—The military offers several options to help you pay for college.

Work-study programs—Jobs that allow students to earn money toward their education while they are enrolled in school. Students can sometimes get jobs related to their program of study.

Working and Savings—As the cost of a college education rises, more students and parents will need to put money aside. Lots of college students have part-time jobs to help make ends meet.

Most people use a combination of these forms of aid to pay for college.

Next, apply for financial aid.