Financial Aid for Students

This Information Web page, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, guides students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. [March 2006]

Getting Started
Use the free information already available from:
High school counselors
College and career school financial aid offices (where you plan to attend)
Local and college libraries
Other Internet sites (search terms student financial aid OR assistance)

Be organized: Use calendars to keep on track.

FYI for the parents: 
FinAid: for Parents
College Savings Plan Network (state "Section 529" plans)
Tax incentives for higher education expenses 

Other useful sites to get started:
Cash for College
FinAid: The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid    
Financial Aid: You Can Afford It
Looking for Student Aid 
Mapping Your Future 
Paying for College 
Department of Education  Beware of scholarship scams -- don't pay for free information!


Student aid and where it comes from
Basic assistance categories:

  • Financial need-based
    Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying for what they can-- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.
  • Non need-based
    Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children. 

Federal Student Aid

State Student Aid: 

  • States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.
  • Check with your state higher education agency and guarantee agency.
  • Consider prepaid tuition and college savings ("Section 529") plans: College Savings Plans Network.
  • Search your Internet browser under terms such as student financial aid or assistance AND your state.

Colleges and universities provide some 20% of aid, most need-based. Check university websites and the institution's financial aid office when you apply for admission.

Private foundations, corporations, and organizations offer scholarships or grants:         

Repaying your loans
After college, the federal government has ways to help you repay your loans.

States and some private employers provide help in repaying loans in exchange for certain types of public service.

Download a FAFSA form