How to apply for financial aid?

If you are applying for college and were wondering how to pay for it, then you can look at applying for financial aid. Students can look forward to getting financial aid to pay the tuition fee, which keeps increasing year on year. How do you go about applying for financial aid? This article explains the process of getting financial aid for college studies.

Need for aid

The first thing to do is to determine if you need aid. For this, you need to do a proper analysis of your financial position. You need to understand your household budget and find out how much money would be available for your college education. This helps you to understand firstly whether you need aid or can manage with your own funds. Secondly, it helps you understand how much aid you will need. Lastly, it also helps you assess if you would be able to repay it later.

Type of aid

Merit-based need is based on merit or academic performance. If you have done well in studies, you can try for scholarships, which will help you to aid your college study expenses. You must, of course, remember that scholarships would be limited and there would be stiff competition.

Need-based aid is given for those who are financially not in a position to pay the college fee. You can apply for federal aid or approach private agencies that provide student loans.

Forms of aid

Aid usually is in the form of loans. A loan is a money given to you with the condition that you repay the amount once you have completed the course of study or if you dropout. On the other hand, grants are funds given to students for their college education, which need not be repaid. This definitely is a better option than a loan, but then there would be limited grants on offer. There is also a work-study aid program whereby you can opt for part-time employment and use the salary you earn to fund your education.


FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step you need to take in your quest for financial aid. You need to fill and submit this form, which will help the federal agencies to determine whether you are eligible to be given a grant or a loan[i]. This is an online application, which you can fill in by following instructions on the website

You need to enter details of your financial position, including your household income, details of tax paid, etc. This is important because the Federal government decides on your application based on this information. You also need to provide personal details like social security number and detailed statements of your assets and bank statements. You must also indicate the college(s) where you intend to study[ii].

Getting the aid

The Student Aid Report (SAR) would be generated usually within 7-10 days of submitting the FAFSA. This is the document you need to submit to the college so that you can start the process of getting financial aid. But in case you do not get a federal grant or loan, do not worry. There are private agencies that give financial aid. The college you are planning to join may also have a student loan program. Make sure you explore all opportunities to get financial aid for your studies.

Financial aid for your college studies is available through federal and other assistance schemes. Apply for them on time, so you can get timely aid to help you pay your college fees.