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Financial Aid, Grants, Scholarships & Student Loans

Maybe you’ve saved all you can, and Junior has a part-time job to help pay college expenses – maybe even a partial scholarship – but you’re still short of meeting college tuition costs. It’s time to look into financial aid, which can come from many sources – federal and state government, your college, your employer, charitable foundations, and private scholarships, for example.

Financial aid is typically need-based and may be in the form of loans, grants, or work-study programs. You apply when your child is a high school senior, as soon as possible after January 1. If you apply before January 1, your form will not be processed and you’ll have to reapply. You can get financial aid forms from child’s high school guidance counselor or from the college aid office. Federal financial aid forms are also available online from the U.S. Department of Education.

Grants are gifts that do not need to be repaid. They are often need-based. Examples are federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) for specific study or research. You can find out more about these at

Student loans are a specific kind of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. You’ll want to learn these names: Stafford and Perkins Loans, parent loans (PLUS), private loans (Alternative), and consolidation loans. For more information about these kinds of student loans, see

Scholarships are gifts that do not need to be repaid. There are thousands of scholarships available through states, colleges, and countless private sources. The guidance office at your child’s school is a good place to begin researching scholarships. Also check with your employer's Benefits department. Many companies and trade unions offer scholarship money to children of employees.

A Word of Caution When Searching Online

Be wary of scam search services when online. You do not need to pay anyone for a scholarship search that you can do yourself for free. If you’re asked for personal information, NEVER provide your Social Security Number or bank information.


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Last Updated: 12/14/2017