|Financial Aid for Students
Guides students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, updated February 2014.
The basics: getting started
Student aid and where it comes from
Targeted Aid for Special Groups
Basic assistance categories:
Federal Student Aid:
- Financial need-based
Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can -- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.
- Non need-based
Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children.
- Provides nearly 70% of student aid under Loans, Grants and Work/study programs.
- Available to all need-based applicants; some loans and competitive scholarships for non need-based.
- Free information from the United States Department of Education:
Federal Student Aid
Financial Aid Resource Publications
States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.
- Loans are the most common federal aid and must be repaid when you graduate or leave college.
- Stafford Loans (FFELs and Direct Loans) include:
- Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) from private lenders, such as banks and credit unions, guaranteed by the federal government.
- Federal PLUS Loans parental loans, not need-based.
- Perkins Loans for the most needy undergraduates; through participating schools.
- Scholarships/grants are mostly need-based and require no repayment:
- "Congressional" scholarships:
- Named for Member of Congress or other prominent individual (such as Byrd Honors Scholarships, Fulbright fellowships)
- Merit-based and highly competitive
- Members of Congress do not play a role in selecting recipients
- Work study programs allow you to earn money while in school:
- For questions not covered by the Department of Education Web site, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
Colleges and universities provide some 20% of aid, most need-based. Check university Web sites and the institution’s financial aid office when you apply for admission.
Private foundations, corporations, and organizations offer scholarships or grants:
Repaying your loans