Financial aid is money to help pay for college or career school. Aid can come from
- the U.S. federal government,
- the state where you live,
- the college you attend, or
- a nonprofit or private organization.
Besides financial aid, you also should think about what you can do to lower your costs when you go to college.
“Types of Federal Student Aid” Video
Check out this video to learn about grants, loans, and work-study jobs and how they can help fund your education. (Captioning available in English and Spanish; just start the video and click on the CC symbol at the bottom.)
Aid and Other Resources From the Federal Government
The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs.
Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (discussed below), you also might get
- aid for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran;
- tax benefits for education;
- an Education Award for community service with AmeriCorps;
- Educational and Training Vouchers for current and former foster care youth; and/or
- scholarships and loan repayment through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and National Health Service Corps.
The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and loans to more than 13 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do!
Federal student aid includes:
- Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
- Loans— borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
- Work-Study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school
Try This Resource
FAFSA4caster—A financial aid calculator that gives an early estimate of eligibility for federal student aid.
Apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. And remember, the first F in “FAFSA” stands for “free”—you shouldn’t pay to fill out the FAFSA form!
Even if you're not eligible for federal aid, you might be eligible for financial aid from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information.
Many colleges offer financial aid from their own funds. Find out what might be available to you:
- Visit your school’s financial aid page on its website, or ask someone in the financial aid office.
- Ask at the department that offers your course of study; they might have a scholarship for students in your major.
- Fill out any applications the school requires for its own aid, and meet the deadlines.
Many organizations offer scholarships or grants to help students pay for college. This free money can make a real difference in how affordable your education is.