25 Part V Money for College For 2017 -2018, the average cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation and personal expenses) for one year at a public four-year college (in-state) was approximately $25,000. The average cost for one year at a private four-year college was ap- proximately $50,000. Attending a four-year college can be expensive, but there’s a great deal of financial aid available. There are also a number of ways to cut college costs. Financial Aid Overview Financial aid is money that is given, earned, or lent to help students pay for their education. Financial aid often makes it possible for students to attend colleges that would otherwise be too expensive. The four types 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. u Grant – money given, usually because of financial need u Scholarship – money awarded for exceptional academic achievement, outstanding talent, and/or financial need u Loan – borrowed money that must be repaid u Work-Study – money earned by working at a part-time job Financial aid is most often awarded in the form of a package. Packages, consisting of grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work-study, are put together by the college’s financial aid office. Aid is often awarded on a “first come, first served” basis, so complete applications early. Except for merit-based scholarships, financial aid is generally awarded to students with financial need. A student has financial need when the cost of attending a college is more than the amount a family can afford to pay. For example, if a family can afford $8,000 and the cost of attending a college is $22,000,thestudenthasafinancialneedof$14,000.Thegreaterthedifference, the greater the need, and the more aid a student is eligible to receive.