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Financial Aid Information

Basic Financial Aid Terms

FAFSA is an acronym that stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  Colleges and Universities use this form to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.  Therefore, even though the FAFSA is technically the application for federal aid, you have to fill it out to receive state and college-sponsored financial aid as well.  If you are hoping for any government or school financial aid for college, you should file a FAFSA.  The FAFSA form opens each year on October 1st for students to fill it out for the following school year.  For example, senior who are graduating as the Class of 2023 would be eligible to fill out the FAFSA after October 1, 2022 for the 2023-2024 school year.  To fill out the FAFSA students and families need to go to the FAFSA website:


Generally, merit-based aid is awarded to students on the basis of their academic and/or extracurricular credentials; this money does not have to be repaid. Some institutional aid (money offered as a "discount" on tuition and fees and/or room and board) combines merit and need in consideration of what to award.


A form of financial aid, based on need, which you do not have to repay.

Sources for grants:

  • Federal Pell Grant: based exclusively on need, awarded to families with high financial need (generally at or below poverty level) with awards varying from student to student, may have to be repaid if the student withdraws before the end of the semester

  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): Need-based aid with limited funding provided to each institution (awards are set by college/university), may have to be repaid if the student withdraws before the end of the semester

  • Institutional: need-based, with institution determining amounts and limited funds available; may have to be repaid if the student withdraws before the end of the semester


Money that MUST be repaid. Visit the FAFSA website for a comparison between federal and private student loans. 

Types of federal loans:

  • Subsidized: need-based government pays the interest during in-school and grade, or "deferment," period

  • Unsubsidized: not need-based and the student responsible for the interest while enrolled in school and during the grace period

Other types of loans:

  • Parent loans (PLUS): not need-based but approval is credit-based, the interest rate is capped

  • Alternative loans: Buyer beware! Loans are intended to "fill the gap." Fees and interest rates vary and interest accrues while in school.

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