Financing Your Education
Types of Financial Aid
There are many different types of financial aid. It is important to understand the vocabulary.
- Scholarships and Grants: money that does not have to be repaid. (Note: not all scholarships/grants are created equal. Some are given as a "one-time" gift while others are renewable if students meet certain criteria.)
- Loans: money that can be borrowed by students and/or parents. (Note: not all loans are created equal. Some loans are subsidized by federal or state programs, which can reduce the interest rate and/or defer payments for a length of time. Compare the total costs of each loan.)
- Work-Study: schools may offer work on campus as a type of financial aid. (Note: not all work-study is created equal. A job in the food service may pay the same as assisting in a laboratory, but students should consider ways work on campus could provide career-related experiences.
- Other: students have other opportunities to supplement their educational finances. Participation in the military, ROTC, AmeriCorps and other programs can provide funds or forgiveness of educational loans. (Note: TANSTAFL – There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Many of these "other" sources will provide financial assistance but there are also obligations. It is always important to read the fine print!)
Financial Aid Process
Students planning to enroll in college for Fall 2023 can begin filing your FAFSA after October 1. Each college and university has a different deadline so contact the school to find out their exact deadline date.
- Process for Applying for Aid
- FAFSA Website
- Questions to Ask Colleges Regarding Financial Aid
- Financial Aid Package Comparison Worksheet
- Reciprocity (For students attending a public college in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota or South Dakota)
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The federal government awards around $125 billion in student aid every year in the form of grants, loans and work study. All colleges and universities across the United States require that you file the FAFSA if you are applying for a financial aid package. The FAFSA application asks for information about your family’s financial status and considers several other factors in determining your eligibility to receive aid. After you have completed and submitted your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will inform you of your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution). Your family will be expected to pay this estimated amount for a specific academic year. If the college tuition/cost is more than your EFC, you will have a financial need and should be eligible to receive some type of financial aid. Your information will be given to colleges that you are applying to and after that data has been reviewed, each college will determine the financial aid package that they can offer to you.
Area organizations and individuals provide a variety of scholarships for seniors. Even though the sponsors are local, these scholarships can be used towards your expenses at any college or university in the United States. The packet of information for the local scholarships will be available in mid-December and seniors will have until late January to apply for these scholarships. Students will be notified via emails when the local scholarship packet is available. All students who are selected to receive local scholarships will be awarded at the Senior Awards Night in May.
Scholarship Search Websites
In researching and applying for scholarships, be sure to avoid scholarship scams! You should never provide a credit card number or send money to apply for a scholarship. Avoid statements like “Our scholarship service will do all of the work for you,” or “This scholarship is guaranteed or you’ll receive your money back.” For help in identifying a scholarship scam, refer to the FinAid Page.