There are three main types of financial aid for college:
- Need-based Aid: For students who have demonstrated financial need. To qualify for this type of aid, students and parents must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is free and available beginning October 1st at fafsa.ed.gov. ALL students are encouraged to complete a FAFSA form, even if you think you won't qualify for need-based aid. The FAFSA also serves as your HOPE scholarship application and indicates to your colleges that you are interested in receiving financial aid.
- Loans: Money that is required to be paid back when a student graduates or stops attending school. Student loans awarded through FAFSA are low-interest loans with extended payback plans. For more information on loan programs, please visit Federal Student Aid.
- Scholarships: Financial awards that are generally given to students who have demonstrated high achievement in academics, or some other areas such as fine arts, athletics, or community service. There are literally over a million scholarships available to students. Obtaining scholarships requires A LOT of work the student’s part! The best place to start is on the Admissions or Financial Aid webpage of the schools you are applying to. Many colleges and universities have separate applications for their scholarship programs (sometimes even due prior to admission decision deadlines). Many private organizations offer scholarships to outstanding students. Check out the scholarship search engines listed on this page to research these. There are several scholarship opportunities posted on the our GOC Scholarship and Events page throughout the year. Many of these scholarships are limited to students in the local area. Remember that the smaller the applicant pool, the better the chances of you receiving the award. Keep in mind that scholarships tend to be VERY competitive; make sure you shine on your applications!