Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. The first word is FREE because you should never be asked to pay for it! Federal student aid comes from the federal government - specifically the U.S. Department of Education. It's money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses. Federal student aid covers expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, loans and work-study. The FAFSA opens on October 1st every year and funds can be limited so make sure you apply early! Click here to get started!
The federal government provides grants for students attending college or career school. Most types of grants, unlike loans, are sources of free money that generall do not have to be repaid. Grants can come from the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization. Do your research, apply for any grants you might be eligible for and be sure to meet application deadlines!
If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your school's financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest. If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you understand who is making the loan and the terms and conditions of the loan. Student loans can come from the federal government, from private sources such as banks or financial institutions, or from other organizations. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually have more benefits thatn loans from banks or other private sources.
Direct Subsidized Loans: loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the cost of higher education. Interest is paid by the government until after the student leaves/finishes school.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans: loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate and professional students but eligibility is not based on financial need. Interest will accrue as soon as the loan is taken.
Direct PLUS Loan: loans made to graduate or professional students to help pay for education expenses not covered by financial aid. Eligibilty is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required.
Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.