Financial aid doesn’t just appear out of thin air. The federal government and other organizations create regulations and budgets that allow them to dole it out through appropriate channels.
There are a wide variety of programs at the federal, state, and private levels to help students pay for their higher education. Financial aid mainly includes grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and work-study programs.
The Four Primary Sources of Financial Aid
The U.S. Federal Government
Not surprisingly, the federal government is the largest provider of financial aid in the country. According to the most recent statistics, they provide over $120 billion each year to over 13 million students.
State of Residence
Students may also be eligible for financial aid from their local state. The U.S. Department of Education has collected the appropriate student aid contacts and websites for all states and territories here. Check into your state to see what you may be able to apply for.
Beyond all federal and state financial aid, some schools also have their own financial aid programs. These aid programs are typically highly specialized, varying between schools and even between departments.
Contact your school’s financial aid office or your department of study to find out more about what grants or scholarships they may offer.
Nonprofits or Other Private Organizations
Many nonprofit and private organizations provide funding to students in need. These scholarships are typically highly specialized as well and are often for specific groups of people such as those in certain religions, minorities, people with disabilities, and so on.
Where to Find Financial Aid
As the largest distributor of financial aid in America, the federal government is a perfect place to start looking for financial assistance. Filling out the FAFSA should always be the first step a student takes on the quest to fund their education.