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Types of Financial Aid

The first step to navigating the financial aid process is to help students understand the different types of aid available to help them pay for college! Financial aid is any grant or scholarship, loan, or paid employment offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses. Financial aid can come from a variety of sources, including the U.S. federal government, the state where you live, the college you attend, or nonprofit or private organizations. 

Federal Financial Aid

Learn about the types of federal financial aid here.

State Financial Aid

Most states offer grants or scholarships to help students pay for college. State financial aid can be merit- or need-based and often requires a separate application from federal financial aid.

New York State TAP Grant | Illinois MAP Grant | California State Grants

Institutional Aid

Most colleges or universities also offer financial aid, in the form of scholarships or grants. Institutional aid can be merit- or need-based. Students can inquire with a school’s financial aid office to learn more about available institutional aid and confirm specific eligibility requirements.


Encourage students to start their scholarship search early! Here are some scholarship search databases to share with students: College Board’s Scholarship Search | Fastweb | Scholarships.com | CareerOneStop

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses. Read more about work-study here.