What you need to know for Financial AId

12:00 PM

Financial aid can be a little tricky manner to maneuver. I know because I worked at my school's financial aid office helping students get answers about financial aid. So whether you're an incoming freshman, a senior looking for a little bit of help, or anywhere in between, this little rundown will help answer your basic questions about financial aid.

The number one thing you need to know about financial aid is the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid, or the  FAFSA. This is the application that can can be filled out online or through the mail to apply for the Federal Pell Grant, Unsubsized Stafford Loans, and Subsidized Stafford Loans. You can learn the difference about each below.
Note: If filling out online, make sure that the website is www.fafsa.ed.gov 


Grants are basically free money and you do not have to pay these back. The one that most college students know of is the Federal Pell Grant, which is awarded to students when they apply for federal aid and is based on income. By filling out the FAFSA, your school can also match you up with other grants based on your income.

Federal Loans

There are two types of loans you can get through your FAFSA which are the Unsubsidized and subsidized loans. Unsubsidized will charge interest as soon as you take them out. You do not have to pay this loan back until after you graduate or are not enrolled in for six months.

Subsidized loans will not gain interest until after you graduate. You do not have to pay this loan back until six months after you graduate from college or have not enrolled in a university for six months, whichever comes first.

Private Loans

These are loans that you can get through banks or other financial institutions. They have varying interest rates, but are usually higher than federal loans. The pay back date is determined by whomever you receive the loan from. These loans may require you to have a cosigner, and they will also be responsible for your loans if you are not able to pay.


There are scholarships for everything these days, from being left handed to knowing how to make prom dresses out of duct tape. Check with your school first to see which scholarships they may offer to incoming freshman and how to apply. Then try other  sites such as Fastwebs.com and more to see what scholarships may fit your needs. We even have a list of places you should search for scholarships at this link here.

Keep in mind that . . .

It doesn't hurt to apply

You can apply for the FAFSA without any penalties or obligation to accept any aid. This is a good way to see what you qualify for and could be another source to help pay for college expenses. Most importantly, it's free.

You don't have to accept everything you're offered

Once you fill out the FAFSA, you will be informed of what types of aid you are eligible for, but it is up to you to decide which forms of aid you are willing to accept. 

Financial Aid may not pay for everything

Sadly, college rates aren't standard nationwide and some schools cost more than others. I found that out the hard way after I learned that my dream school was out of reach, even though the money I was offered to attend could have easily paid for at least two years at my current university. Make sure you sit down and calculate all your costs -dorm expenses, meal plans, tuition, books,fees etc -and find out how much money you have for college versus what you need. It will help you know your limits and stay within your reach.

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  1. Oh gotta love those grants. Some universities offer an out of state grant that is really helpful too!!

    Kimberly | Kimberly's Chronicle


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