The cost of higher education is one of the top concerns for college students and their families. Financial aid is available to assist in paying not only tuition and books but also costs such as housing (on and off campus) and personal expenses. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, loans and work programs. Support for these programs comes from federal, state and local governments, higher education institutions and private sources.
The first step in getting financial aid is contacting (at the beginning of the senior year of high school) all the institutions the student is considering, determining what deadlines exist and if any additional financial aid and/or scholarship materials are required in addition to the admissions application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A student may be asked to complete an institutional financial aid application or to complete the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Financial Aid PROFILE form. Each college has financial aid administrators (FAA) on staff to help students research financial aid options, apply, and make their way through the financial aid processes.
The largest single source of financial aid is the federal government.
Most students who attend college are eligible to receive federal financial aid.
General student eligibility requirements include:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to be completed and submitted to the United States Department of Education (USDOE) in order to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. The FAFSA can be completed at www.fafsa.ed.gov or by paper. Keep in mind, this service is free. If a student is asked to pay a fee or provide credit card/bank information they are not dealing with the USDOE. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is used by the schools indicated to determine eligibility for Federal (and many other) forms of financial aid. Families can become discouraged when they learn of their EFC. If a family is not able to provide the expected family contribution it does not mean a student will not be able to afford their education. Federal student and parent loans are available to those students/families regardless of financial need. Students may submit the FAFSA starting January 1st prior to the start of the academic year. The USDOE provides a financial aid estimator called FAFSA4caster that can be used earlier to get an idea of what a student may qualify for. This tool can be found at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.
Grants are gift aid that does not have to be repaid and typically require financial need.
There are four federal student aid grants:
Loans provide money to pay for an education and are required to be repaid.
There are three types of federal student loans:
Work-Study is a type of federal financial aid allowing students to earn money to help pay for their education. Federal Work-Study jobs can be on or off campus and are structured to allow college students to succeed at work and in school. The qualifications for applicants and hours required to be worked vary and are determined by the employer. An added bonus to earning money through Federal work-study is that the earnings will not be counted as income when the student files next years FAFSA.
Additional information is available about Federal Student Aid at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
The State Grants and Scholarships Department of the Ohio Board of Regents is responsible for all Ohio undergraduate financial aid programs.
The primary source of funding offered by the state of Ohio is a need-based grant called the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) for those students beginning college in or after the 2006-2007 academic year. Eligibility is determined for all state of Ohio residents who submit a FAFSA (no additional application needed) and is based on the Expected Family Contribution determined by the United States Department of Education. For information about other financial aid programs available through the state visit www.regents.state.oh.us/sgs or call 1-888-833-1133.
Check with each institution to determine if they offer financial aid in addition to state and federal financial aid.
Scholarships are gift aid that does not need to be repaid and are typically based on academic achievement or on a student having a special talent. Scholarships may be provided by many sources including high schools, colleges, churches, employers etc. Many free scholarship searches are available on the Internet. Use caution. It is not necessary to pay to find scholarships and some offers may not be legitimate. A good safe place to start is www.finaid.org.