Check out this video to learn about grants, loans, and work-study jobs and how they can help fund your education. Visit to learn more.

Where to Find Aid Information

Understanding Types of Financial Aid

There are three types of financial aid:

  • Grants: usually based on financial need and don’t have to be repaid
  • Loans: borrowed money that must be repaid with interest
  • Work-Study: a job that lets you earn money while you’re in school

Depending on your financial need, a combination of different types of financial aid can be awarded. Before accepting your award, you will need to determine if a loan is necessary to cover all your college expenses. You may have enough in grants to cover your charges and not need a loan.

Students can use their financial aid funds to cover tuition, fees, room and board, transportation, books, labs, and study abroad. Once you use all of your funds to cover all of your college costs and have funds left over it is called a student’s refund. The strong recommendation is to save it for any future costs you may acquire the following year.

How to Determine Financial Need

To determine how much financial aid a student needs to attend a school, use the formula: Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need.

  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
    Cost varies by school. Each college estimates the COA by adding together the costs of tuition, fees, room and board, transportation, books, supplies, and other miscellaneous living expenses. Most colleges publish the COA on their website.
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
    The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of a family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate a student’s EFC. Your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or taxable Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive; it is a number used by postsecondary institutions to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.
  • Financial Need
    The difference between the COA at a school and your EFC. While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend.

This tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can help you:

  • Understand your financial aid offer
  • Plan to cover the remaining costs
  • Estimate how much you’ll owe and if you can afford that debt
  • Compare offers from different schools
  • Decide what to do next

State Financial Aid

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