Financial Aid

Understanding Financial Aid

Most people immediately think of pell grants and student loans when they think about financial aid. But the truth is financial aid can come in many shapes and sizes. Financial aid can come from the federal government, the state government, the college you attend, your employer, or third party organizations that help students out. Most financial aid comes in the following forms:



Student Loans15%

Employer Tuition Assistance10%

Work Study5%

What do I need to know?



Many charitable organizations offer scholarships to help students to pay for college. Scholarships are the most accessible form of financial aid that students can apply to. This money can have a huge impact on how affordable your education is. You can even end up earning more money than you need to pay for school if you earn enough scholarships! Eligibility requirements vary for each scholarships. Unlike grants, loans, and workstudy programs, most scholarships are not based off of your income nor your parents income. Scholarships are the best route for most students.


Grants are similar to scholarships in that they don’t have to be repaid unless you withdraw from school. Grants are often considered to be free money and are often need-based. The federal government, state government, and your college provide the money for the different grants available. Federal grants include

  • Pell grants 
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants 
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grants 
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service grants

Student Loans

Unlike grants, student loans are borrowed money that you can use for college and living expenses. You must repay your loans. Although the federal government touts that they have low interest rates, you must understand that that interest compounds while you’re still in school. This leads to a loan that is likely going to take you more than 10 years to pay off. Avoid student loans at all cost! If you do need to take out a student loan, only take out the amount that you need to get by — nothing more. This is the most common and the most dangerous form of student aid. And don’t plan on receiving student debt forgiveness.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Many large companies and hospitals offer a tuition assistance program for employees.  Some companies offer a match program; others offer a percentage.  The tuition assistance program will vary depending on the employer.  If you are attending graduate school, you’re chances of receiving tuition assistance are even greater.  Check with companies in the area of your school to see if they offer tuition assistance and consider applying for jobs at those companies.  Employers that offer tuition tuition assistance include



Bank of America

Barnes and Noble

Best Buy







Home Depot











Verizon Wireless



Wells Fargo

Johnson & Johnson


Work Study

The work-study program provides part-time jobs for student that are enrolled in school. Work-study jobs are reserved for students based on financial need and are managed by the school you’re attending. These jobs can be on campus and off campus, though they’ll usually be on-campus. If you are an undergraduate student, you’ll be paid by the hour. Graduate students may receive the opportunity to be paid by salary, depending on the work you do. There is a caveat though: The amount you earn can’t exceed your total Federal Work-Study award. This means that you may be limited in the amount of hours you’re allowed to work.

Where do I start?

Whether you’re about to start college or you’re already in college, the best place to start is to apply to several scholarships. We don’t just recommend that because we’re a scholarship site; we really mean it! Scholarships are single-handedly the best way to have money to pay for school.  They are widely available and everybody can find a scholarship that they qualify for. Take the time start applying to scholarships.

After applying to scholarships, the next thing to do is fill out the FAFSA.  Below is a brief video that explains the FAFSA. It will be required in order to start qualifying for grants, work-study, and student loans.

After you’ve filled out the FAFSA, continue to apply for scholarships and visit your university’s financial aid office for more info.