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When talking about financial aid for school, for purposes of this website we’ll mean all federally funded, government backed financial aid.
This is all financial aid that you would apply for through the FAFSA application. The FAFSA would serve as the one application that determines your expected family contribution (EFC) which would be used to consider you for all financial aid available through a particular college.
Some components of financial aid are universal among all colleges and universities and others are specific to a certain school.
All of these components are what you would typically see on a financial aid award letter from a university or college. It could be some of these or a combination of all of these components, depending on your circumstances and what you submit for information on the FAFSA.
Scholarships and Grants
This is the portion of a financial aid package that’s often considered “government free money.” It never has to be paid back. This part of financial aid is usually considered based on both academic merit and financial need.
This is usually based on financial need. A certain amount of dollars will be awarded to you over the course of the upcoming school year. In order to earn these work study dollars, you’re required to apply for part-time work on campus that relates to work study. Through your hours worked, you’ll receive your work study payments that you’ve been awarded.
This is another nice component of financial aid for school since it doesn’t obligate you to have to pay anything back to the government. You only need to do some part-time work to earn it.
Students who haven’t been awarded work study may find it difficult to get part-time work on campus since most jobs are held for work study recipients first.
Federal Student Loans
This is the one component that you hope to have to rely on the least in your search for financial aid for school.
These student loans are backed by the government and are not considered “government free money” because you are required to pay them back. The payback terms are usually much more favorable for the students than with private loans.
The “financial aid gap” is the difference between the cost of going to school and your financial aid award. This will vary depending on your circumstances but you’ll be responsible to come up with the rest of the money you’ll owe.
Always focus on these first before you look to use private student loans. These loans are the least favorable to students with the least desirable terms.
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