Financial aid basics
ANYONE can get help paying for college. You just have to be willing to do the work! Understanding and filling out the FAFSA is work, searching for scholarships is work, applying for scholarships is work, but we can help you every step of the way!
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is any amount of money that helps you pay for college. There are four basic types of financial aid:
- Scholarships: This type of financial aid is awarded to students on the basis of excellence in academics, leadership, or even talents. Scholarships do not need to be paid back and in some instances financial need is considered when determining a student’s eligibility. Most scholarships are awarded on an annual basis and come from state, institutional, or private funds. For more help searching for scholarships, visit our scholarship page.
- Grants: Financial need is usually the biggest factor in determining grants, and they do not need to be repaid. Most grants come for federal and state programs due to a large amount of resources. The most widely recognized grant is the federal Pell Grant, which determines eligibility through the FAFSA. Other sources of grants include institutions and private sources. For more information about the FAFSA, please visit our page.
- Loans: In most cases, loans must be repaid. Sources for educational loans include federal, institutional, or private. Students and parents are able to receive loans to help pay for post-secondary education. For more information about the different types of loans, please visit our FAFSA page.
- Work-Study: This program allows students that demonstrate financial need to work part-time jobs that are either on or off campus that enable students to earn funds that will help with educational expenses. Work-study is determined through filing the FAFSA.
How is financial aid determined?
There are several different factors that determine who needs financial aid and who receives financial aid. Financial aid is intended to make up the difference between what your family can afford to pay and what college costs. The majority of federal loans, grants, and work-study is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information about the FAFSA, please visit our page. Scholarships can be applied for by the student and are generally awarded based on academics, talent, and/or leadership. In some instances, scholarships will also be based off financial need.
Does financial aid need to be paid back?
Some financial aid does not need to be paid back, like scholarships and federal grants. However, loans are required to be paid back and will include a certain amount of interest. For more information on the different types of loans, visit our FAFSA page.
Where do I find financial aid?
Federal and state governments, colleges and universities, private businesses, and public and private organizations can all be sources of financial aid. You will need to search for financial aid that works for you. This means you need to fit the requirements to apply. Everyone should file the FAFSA, but not everyone can apply to every scholarship or grant. Make sure you use a lot of different resources to find available sources of financial aid.
- Check with local high school guidance counselors to see what aid they know of that might work for you
- Check with the financial aid offices of the colleges/universities that you are applying to
- Contact the NACRC for assistance in searching and applying for scholarships
- Setup profiles on online sites such as scholarships.com and fastweb.com to search for scholarships
- Keep in mind that deadlines matter. The earlier you start your search, the better!
- Make sure to have a one-on-one advising appointment with NACRC staff so that you know you have covered all the ways to look for aid and our staff can help you with your search
For more information about scholarships, and scholarship opportunities, visit our scholarships page.