There are four main types of financial aid:
- Grants. Grants are gift aid because you don’t have to pay them back. Grants come from federal and state governments and from colleges. Most grants are need–based, which means that they are usually given based on your or your family’s financial circumstances. Click here to learn more.
- Scholarships. They also do not have to be paid back. Scholarships come from governments, colleges, or private organizations. They may be awarded for academic or athletic ability, interest in a certain subject, or volunteer work. Some scholarships are given based on membership in an ethnic or religious group. Employers may also give scholarships to children of employees. Click here to learn more.
- Work–Study Programs. You can get a paid part–time job through the federal work–study program to help you cover part of the cost. Work-study encourages community service work and work related to students’ course of study. Click here to learn more.
- Loans. A loan is money borrowed from the government, a bank or a lending company. Loans must be paid back with an extra charge called interest. The federal government offers low–interest loans to students with financial need. Other lenders charge more interest. Click here to learn more.
How to Apply for Financial Aid:
Students intending to enroll in college in the Fall of 2017 must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid. This can be done as early as October 1, 2016.
Some colleges also use FAFSA to determine scholarship awards. You can also apply for financial aid directly from the colleges you’re applying to and from private organizations. Most colleges have a priority deadline for submitting your FAFSA application of March 1.
If you have a financial aid question about a specific college, please contact that school’s financial aid office using this list of Alabama Colleges and priority deadlines.