Financial Aid in a Nutshell
The financial aid process can be intimidating, especially because it involved forms, tax returns and reporting personal financial information. Financial aid should not be confused with scholarships. According to the website FinAid, the difference is as follows:
Money provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student’s education or which is conditioned on the student’s attendance at an educational institution. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self-help aid (loans and work).
A form of financial aid given to undergraduate students to help pay for their education. Most scholarships are restricted to paying all or part of tuition expenses, though some scholarships also cover room and board. Scholarships are a form of gift aid and do not have to be repaid. Many scholarships are restricted to students in specific courses of study or with academic, athletic or artistic talent.
College Financial Aid offices are always available to help and are quick to remind parents and students that financial aid is always free. In other words, you should not be asked to pay fees to file forms. Do not confuse private companies who charge a fee to fill out your forms with government websites for the financial aid form known as the FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (see section on FAFSA) This is the official website: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Here you will find live links to:
Applying for Financial Aid in 7 Easy Steps: a downloadable pamphlet published by NACAC: National Association for College Admission Counseling (PDF).
Parent’s Guide to Financial Aid : http://www.nacacnet.org/studentinfo/articles/Pages/parentsfa.aspx
United States Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid has many resources available to help prepare for college and applying for financial aid. https://studentaid.ed.gov/resources
If the terminology of financial aid is confusing, there are two helpful glossaries also with live links on our school website to decode the language of financial aid from:
This graphic is found at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/financial-aid-process.png