Financial aid is money that is given, earned, or lent to help students pay for their college education. Financial aid often makes it possible for students to attend colleges that would otherwise be too expensive. Students and parents should, therefore, never assume that they cannot afford a particular college or university.
The four categories of financial aid are grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Grants and scholarships are considered “free money”; loans and work-study are considered “self-help” programs.
- Grant - money given, usually because of financial need
- Scholarship– money awarded for exceptional academic achievement, an outstanding talent or skill, and/or financial need
- Work-Study– money earned by working at a campus job
- Loan– borrowed money that must be repaid
Financial aid is most often awarded in the form of a “package.” Packages, consisting of grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work-study, are put together by the college’s financial aid office. Except for merit based scholarships, financial aid is generally awarded on the basis of financial need. Financial need is the difference between the cost of attending a college (tuition, fees, room and board, etc.) and the amount a family can afford. For example, if a family can afford $4,000 and the cost of attending a college is $10,000, the student has a financial need of $6,000. The greater the difference, the greater the need, and the more aid the student is eligible to receive.
While the financial aid process can be very confusing, there is help available. High school counselors have information and forms, and they can answer many of your questions. You can also call any college financial aid office for help. For information on federal aid programs, call The Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3543.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – Because most financial aid is based on need, it is necessary to have an objective way to determine how much a family can afford to pay. The FAFSA is the federal form that’s used to determine this amount. The FAFSA asks for information on income, assets, ect. This information is then applied to a formula, and the amount a family should be able to afford (their Estimated Family Contribution or EFC) is exactly calculated.
Students, along with their parents, should begin working on the FAFSA in October of their senior year. For pre-application worksheets or to complete the FAFSA online, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov. Submit your FAFSA as soon after October 1st as possible. Financial aid is generally awarded on a “first come, first serve” basis, so get your FAFSA in early.
Approximately 2-6 weeks after you have submitted your FAFSA, you, and the colleges you designated on your FAFSA, will receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you file electronically, you will get your SAR much quicker. Colleges will use the information from your Student Aid Report (SAR) to make up your aid package.
Mount Morris High School’s CEEB code is 333250. This number will be needed for all test registration forms and for college applications.