22 Four forms of financial aid u Grant – money given, usually because of financial need u Scholarship – money awarded for exceptional academic achievement or outstanding talent u Work-Study – money earned by working at a part-time job u Loan – borrowed money that must be repaid Financial assistance is available Financial aid is money that is given, earned, or lent to help students pay for their education. Most financial aid awards are based on financial need. The greater the need, the more financial aid a family is likely to receive. Financialaidoftenmakesitpossibleforstudentstoattendcollegesthatwould otherwise be too expensive. Students and parents should never assume they cannot afford a particular college until after they’ve seen the school’s financial aid offer. The four categories of financial aid are grants, scholarships, loans, and work- study. Grants and scholarships are considered “free money.” Loans and work- study are considered “self-help” programs. Most financial aid is awarded in the form of a “package.” Packages, which consist of grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work-study, are put together by the college’s financial aid office. Since packages vary from college to college, it’s important to compare all financial aid packages carefully. Parentsandstudentsmustcompletespecificformsinordertoobtainfinancial aid. TheFAFSA(FreeApplicationforFederalStudentAid)isthemostimportant of these forms. For information on the FAFSA, go to fafsa.ed.gov. Any student, with or without financial need, can obtain a Direct Loan. This is a low-interest loan that students don’t begin repaying until after they leave college. For more information about financial aid, see your high school counselor or call the college’s financial aid office. There is also a great deal of information online. Three sites with excellent financial aid information are www.finaid.org, www.educationplanner.org, and studentaid.ed.gov.