Last Updated: June 22, 2021

Financial Aid for College Students

Financial Aid is the money that is granted to students through various means in order to help them complete their education or enter a professional degree course. They come through different means and under different titles making the process of obtaining financial aid seem hard and unachievable. But the first step of obtaining financial aid is to educate oneself about the different means of financial aid that one can receive and the means of achieving it.


The basic forms of financial aid for students are grants, educational loans, federal student loans, direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, parent loans and even private loans. At the same time, candidates will also be eligible for scholarships and other work-study options which will help them pay college tuition while covering other expenses as well. The main sources for financial aid are federal, state, school, and private in general all of which can be approached by candidates in order to aid them pay for college.

Scholarships for Students

Contrary to common misconception, there are scholarships for just about every student, regardless of background. The challenge, however, is finding those scholarship programs that suit the candidate. High school guidance counselors, local community organizations and businesses, and online searches are the best sources for finding the right scholarship. To increase the chances of receiving an award, candidates must submit applications to every scholarship they are eligible for.

The amount that scholarships cover vary from one to another and while some scholarships might cover the entire tuition fee of the candidate, most others are one-time awards or of a specific amount that can aid the student.

Grants for Students

Grants are financial aid offered to students with no expectation of refund unless the candidate drops out from the course for any given reason. Students can apply for grants from the federal government, state government, colleges or educational institutions they are studying in and even from non-profit organizations. Grants are generally provided to students with financial need and can be applied to by completing the FAFSA form. Each grant will have different eligibility requirements.

Some of the grants that are offered by the federal government are-
Apart from these, candidates will be able to avail of institutional grants that are provided based on academic merit and financial need. There are also state grants which vary state by state and even private and employer grants with differing eligibility criteria.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application college students are supposed to fill in order to avail any federal scholarship available. Submitting a FAFSA is the first step to receiving various types of financial assistance for undergraduate or graduate programs. Every year, the U.S. Department of Education awards over $120 billion in tuition assistance through federal tuition assistance programs.

After the FAFSA application is received by the office of Federal Student Aid, they will determine whether the candidate is eligible for financial aid taking their financial need into consideration. The financial aid package different candidates receive will be comprised of different funding courses like-
Apart from these common methods of funding for education, candidates will be able to avail of aid from their state government, from their college or career school, or the aid available to them by being part of a military family or being an international student.

Joining the Military

Since 1916, the Reserve Officer Training Corps/ ROTC has been preparing young adults to become the next generation of military officers. Over 1,700 college and university campuses in the U.S. have an ROTC program on campus. ROTC students receive up to four-years of free college education in exchange for a guaranteed commission in one of the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard).

At various times throughout the school year, ROTC students attend leadership classes and receive specialized military training. After graduation, ROTC students are committed to serve as an officer in the military for up to four years. Officers who choose to complete 20 years of service receive outstanding retirement benefits, and many benefits offered to service members may be transferred to their dependents. Additionally, there is a high demand in the civilian workforce for individuals with military experience and training. Any U.S. citizen eligible for military service may apply, and acceptance rates are strong.

Consider Studying Abroad

The U.S. government manages the largest international exchange student program in the world. In 1946, the Fulbright Program was established to promote mutual understanding and respect among nations through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. Every year, the U.S. sends Fulbright students and scholars to nearly 140 countries as unofficial cultural ambassadors.

Administered by the State Department, these highly competitive grants are open for individuals pursuing coursework in a variety of subjects including fine arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and science. Successful recipients of Fulbright scholarships and grants have strong academic records, demonstrated leadership potential, and a passion for cross-cultural experiences. Candidates must submit a compelling project proposal or statement of purpose, as well as a personal statement and three to four letters of recommendation as part of their application.

For more information, visit the official pages of FSEOG,Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and FAFSA.