Financial Aid for Students
Guides students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the U.S. Senate, updated February 2014.
Student aid and where it comes from
Basic assistance categories:
Federal Student Aid:
- Financial need-based
Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying
what they can-- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for
- Non need-based
Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization
membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and
Scholarships/grants are mostly need-based and
require no repayment:
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
Named for Member of Congress or
other prominent individual (such as Byrd Honors Scholarships, Fulbright
Merit-based and highly competitive.
Members of Congress do not
play a role in selecting recipients.
Work study programs allow you to earn money
while in school:
Federal Work Study Program: college campus jobs
USA Jobs: Welcome Students and Recent Graduates: jobs with the federal government
For questions not covered by the Department of Education Web
site, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at
- Provides nearly 70% of student aid under Loans, Grants and Work/study
- Available to all need-based applicants; some loans and competitive scholarships
for non need-based.
- Free information from the U.S. Department
- Student Aid on the Web
- Financial Aid Resource Publications
- Loans are the most common federal aid and must
be repaid when you graduate or leave college:
- Stafford Loans
PLUS Loans parental loans, not need-based.
Loans for the most needy undergraduates; through participating schools.
offer residents a variety of scholarships,
loans, and tuition exemptions.
Colleges and universities provide some 20% of
aid, most need-based. Check university Web sites and the institution's financial aid office when
you apply for admission.
Private foundations, corporations, and organizations
offer scholarships or grants:
Free Scholarship Search
Grants for Individuals
Targeted aid for special groups
in public service?
Federal assistance programs seek to encourage people to work in geographic
areas or professions where there's a particular need (such as doctors
in underserved areas); encourage underrepresented groups to enter a
particular profession; and provide aid in exchange for services provided
(such as military service).
private K-12 education
No direct federal assistance, check with schools themselves:
college, the federal government has ways to help you
repay your loans.
Merete F.Gerli, CRS