Financial Aid

Financial aid is an important component of paying for higher education. Whether you have financial need or not, there are many financial aid options to explore. So, when should you start? That's good question. There isn't a clear cut answer because it's different for everyone. However, one part of the process holds true for everyone. If you want to be considered for federal financial aid, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon after January 1st of the year in which you will begin your studies.

If you are just beginning to look into ways to pay for college, use our financial aid flowchart as a starting point. This guide was created specifically to help students and families tackle that “Where should I start?” question. As you interact with the flowchart and answer basic questions, it will steer you towards the funding path that is most aligned with your unique situation.

Financial Aid Flowchart

With each response, you’ll be taken to a new financial aid option to explore. These options are presented in the order in which you should pursue each source of financial aid. Remember, it’s crucial to get this process right in order to avoid running into financial consequences such as borrowing more than you actually need.

Educate yourself by studying the in-depth resources and guides below. Spend extra time researching alternatives and reviewing every possible option. With careful attention to detail, you can fund your college degree in a way that will help save you money.

The Basics

Before applying for financial aid, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of financial aid available to students and the eligibility requirements for each.

Financial Aid for Students by Type

The financial aid process looks slightly different for each student. However, there are some steps in the process that are the same for everyone, such as filing the FAFSA. See below for financial aid guides we’ve compiled for high school students, college students, grad students, adult learners, and international students. Each guide covers eligibility, types of financial aid, and extra tips and pointers to getting through the process successfully.

FAFSA Resources
Scholarships and Grants
  • Scholarships
    Where to find scholarships, how often to search, and information on where to search for college scholarships.
  • Grants
    Financial aid awards that do not have to be repaid.