Sources of Student Aid

More than $200 billion in aid is given to students in each school year!

Federal Aid

The federal government offers aid in the form of grants, loans, and tax benefits. To apply for federal aid, you must prepare a FAFSA.

Federal college grants include the Pell Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Federal loans are government-backed loans that provide students in need with low interest rates and repayment terms. Federal student loan programs include the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, the Perkins Loan, and the Direct PLUS Loans for graduate and professional degree students. For these programs, the student is the borrower and responsible for repaying the loan.

Tax-based aid provides tax breaks to students who are paying for a college education. Tax-based aid programs include the Hope Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (this credit is particularly helpful to graduate students), tuition and fees deductions, and student loan interest deductions. To see for which tax credits you qualify, reach out to your local tax professional for guidance.

State-Based Aid

Similar to federal aid, state student aid comes in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. Each state has a unique set of programs to help students fund their college education. As a general rule, state programs are available only to students who attend a college within their state of residence.

College-Specific Aid

College-specific student aid is an important source of funds to help students pay their college expenses. Many colleges use a portion of their endowment funds to help students cover their cost of attendance.

Each college has complete control over the specific awarding criteria and will communicate with you directly in the form of an award letter. This letter will detail the COA, any student aid you are awarded, and the outstanding balance. It is very important that you keep this letter and submit it in order to receive your reimbursement. Click here to learn more about award letters.

Private Aid

Eligibility requirements for private student aid often include unique student characteristics that are not considered by other forms of aid. Age, intended major, organization membership, and disability are some of the more prevalent criteria.

Students too often assume that they will receive plenty of privately funded grants and scholarships, but for the majority of students, that is not the case. Although private student aid is a relatively small amount of funds distributed across a large number of students, however, it is definitely still worthwhile to investigate these sources of aid!