Financial Aid & Scholarships
Paying for College
Determining how to pay for college is a challenge for most families and often involves pulling from a variety of sources—from financial aid and loans to scholarships and savings.
- Need-based aid depends on financial need and includes grants, subsidized student loans, scholarships, and work study. Eligibility is based on FAFSA. Some schools also require the CSS Profile.
- Merit-based aid, such as merit awards or merit scholarships, is awarded in recognition of student achievements (e.g., academic, athletic, artistic, etc.). Unlike need-based financial aid, merit-based financial aid does not consider the financial need of the student or family.
The sections below provide information on how you can calculate the cost of college as well as some of the many options to pay for college.
How Much Aid Will I Get?
How much aid you receive will depend on the cost of attendance, your family's financial situation, and how much funding is available. Financial aid can be complicated, but the steps you need to take to apply for financial aid are simple. File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and, if necessary, the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile). Also, search and apply for scholarships. The only way to get financial aid is to apply.
The more scholarship money you earn, the less you will have to borrow by way of student loans (or pay out of pocket); it's free money. Therefore, it’s totally worth taking the time to find and apply for scholarships.
Two Main Sources for Merit Scholarships
1. Private local and national scholarships
- Awarded by private organizations, foundations, individuals, etc.
- Naviance is good place to start your search.
- See the list of scholarship search engines below.
2. College-based scholarships
- Awarded by colleges for use at that college only.
- Students are automatically considered for some scholarship programs upon application submission. Other scholarships you'll need to apply for. See "Merit Scholarships from Universities and Colleges" below.
- Search on the college's website.