What Is Financial Aid???
For many prospective college students the most important question is, how will I be able to pay for my college education?
While families of students and students earning a salary, remain a primary source of funding for a college education, a major portion of the college student population also supplement their education budget with the help of financial aid. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported 63% of all undergraduates attending a higher education institution in the school year 2003-2004 received some form of financial aid.
Financial aid can be broken into two major categories–need based and merit based. Need based financial aid programs target individuals from low income households whose financial resources are below a minimum income and/or asset ceiling. Merit based financial aid programs target individuals that have excelled in their academic efforts.
Financial aid is also classified by four main types. These types of financial aid are grants, work study programs, scholarships and loans. Grants and scholarships are monies provided for the students’ use in paying for higher education. The students receiving grants and/or scholarships do not pay back the provider of the funds. Work study programs are federal and state funded programs that provide qualified students with a job enabling the students to earn money to help pay for their education. Loans are monies borrowed by either the student (student loan) or by the parents (PLUS – Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) and must be repaid.
The major portion of financial aid received by students is from the federal and State governments. The financial aid application forms required by the federal government, the State of California, and many higher education institutions, are the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the GPA Verification Form.