What is financial aid?
Financial aid is any source of funds available to students and their families for paying post-secondary education costs; most commonly scholarships, grants, loans and work-study. Some financial aid is based on need; some is based solely on special merit (grades, talent, ability). In addition, there are federal and state tax credits available to help offset tuition costs for eligible families.
Why is there student financial aid?
The intent is to insure that all students have the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education, even if they can’t afford the cost.
Where does the student financial aid come from?
There are four primary funding sources. These sources are:
- Federal government
- State government
- Institutions (Colleges and Universities)
- Private Sources (associations, foundations, employers, unions, private scholarship funds, etc.)
Who is eligible for financial aid?
- Many people are eligible for assistance. Students who excel in areas such as academics, sports leadership, music, art, and dance may receive an award in recognition of their special merit. These types of awards are called merit-based.
- Some students will receive awards based on their demonstrated financial need. By filling out a financial aid application, students may be able to demonstrate that they and their family cannot pay for all of the post-secondary education costs on their own. These students may receive an award based on their need for aid. These are need-based awards.
- Students may also be “TIP” (Tuition Incentive Program) eligible. This means students enrolled in a certificate or associate degree program who had Medicaid coverage for 24 months within a 36-consecutive-month period, from the time they started middle school, are eligible for tuition assistance for the first two years of college or beyond.
Why can’t everyone get money for educational costs?
The demand for student aid exceeds the supply of dollars available. Therefore, most financial aid programs limit their awards to students who have demonstrated that they need the aid to be able to extend their education beyond high school.
How is financial need determined?
Families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, called FAFSA, thereby providing information about their income and assets which will be evaluated using a national formula. To determine whether or not you demonstrate need, you must subtract the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance. If your family contribution is less than the cost, you have a demonstrated financial need and may be considered for need-based financial aid. You may use the EFC calculator, found on any college website or www.studentaid.ed.gov, to estimate your expected contribution.