Student Financial Aid

This Information Web page, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, guides students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. [Updated March 2006]

The Basics: Getting Started

Start gathering information early.

Free information is readily available from:

  • High school counselors
  • College and career school financial aid offices (where you plan to attend)
  • Local and college libraries
  • U.S. Department of Education Web page
  • Other Internet sites (search terms student financial aid OR assistance)

Ask questions: counselors may know if you have exceptional circumstances that affect your eligibility.

Be organized: use calendars to keep on track.

Keep copies of all forms and correspondence: you must reapply for aid each year.

Parents of students: save money long before your child attends college.

Good overviews:

Beware of scholarship scams -- don't pay for free information!

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Student Aid and Where It Comes From

Basic assistance categories:

  • Financial need-based

Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can-- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.

  • Non need-based

Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children.

Federal Student Aid: