Financial aid for college consists of loans, grants, scholarships, and work study. Grants and scholarships are worth searching for because they don’t have to be paid back, unlike student loans, which require an ongoing financial obligation, or work study, which requires a work commitment. There are generally three sources for college grant aid; the federal government, state higher-education agencies, and colleges.
In order to be considered for any type of grant aid, you or your child should file the federal government’s financial aid application, the FAFSA. In addition, private colleges typically require the CSS Profile form or their own individual aid form. The FAFSA and CSS Profile can be filled out and submitted online (the FAFSA is free but the CSS Profile has a fee). These forms do require some time to complete, but the time spent is worth it. Not only are these forms a prerequisite to various types of grant aid, but some colleges may require them in order for students to be eligible for college merit scholarships. Keep in mind that students must reapply for financial aid every year.