Financial Aid FAQ

How do I apply for financial aid?

If you wish to receive financial aid from the government in the form of Pell grants, subsidized or unsubsidized student loans, you must apply for it by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Some private colleges have an additional application they may ask you to fill out to administer their form of need-based aid. This is known as the College Scholarship Service Profile (or CSS Profile). When applying to a school check to see if they are one of the schools that require the CSS Profile.

Will I qualify for financial aid for college? What are the requirements?

Financial aid for college is available to almost anyone regardless of age. To take advantage of federal financial aid a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen. If not a citizen you must meet some other eligibility requirements. Get more details here
  • Have a valid Social Security Number. (Some students may be exempt from this).
  • Have proof of completing a high school education.
  • Be enrolled in an eligible college degree or certification program as a regular student.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
  • If male, be registered with the Selective Service System.
  • Have no conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans).
  • Some colleges require students to complete the CSS Profile to determine how much financial aid they should receive. See a list of what colleges require this additional information here.

To receive certain types of aid such as Pell Grants or subsidized loans you must demonstrate financial need.

Any student can take advantage of unsubsidized student loans regardless of income.

Can I negotiate my financial aid package?

The financial aid package you receive from the school is not set in stone. If financial circumstances have changed for your family, or you are just concerned that the package is unaffordable, call and request that the financial aid officer takes another look.

To learn more about when and how to appeal your financial aid package check out our financial aid negotiation page. 

How do I get a grant for college?

To receive a Pell Grant, you must complete the FAFSA and demonstrate financial need. Students whose families earn $50,000 a year or less qualify for Pell Grants, but the majority of grants go to the students with the most financial need whose families earn $20,000 a year or less.

There are some other types of grants that may be available to you based on your situation. The TEACH Grant is available to students who have financial need who are planning to become teachers.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Grant is available to students who had a parent or guardian who died during military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.

Learn more about federal grants available here.

Also, there may be some other types of non-federal grants you may be eligible for. Many of these are not need-based. Research what types of grants you may be eligible for that are available from businesses, non-profits, and colleges themselves.

Where do I find college scholarships?

Many college scholarships are offered from colleges. These can be either need-based or merit-based.

To apply for these scholarships complete the FAFSA or the CSS Profile if the college you are applying to requires it.

Also, ask an admissions officer or check the college’s website to see what additional scholarships are available and apply to each one individually.

Do a web search to find even more scholarships you may be eligible for based on your major, where you’re from, your grades, or special skills or talents you may have.

An easy way to start your college search is by signing up for Scholarship Owl.