Types of Financial Aid

Financial aid consists of grants, loans, scholarships, and employment opportunities to help students finance a post secondary education.  Funds may be used at two or four year colleges and universities as well as other post secondary schools and training programs.

  • There are two primary categories of financial aid.  The first category is merit-based aid, which is generally given to students in recognition of special skills, talents and/or academic ability.
  • The second category is need-based aid.  Need-based student aid constitutes the major portion of assistance available for post secondary education.  Eligibility is established by meeting specific criteria and the amounts awarded are, in part, based upon the difference between the cost of attendance and the family's ability to pay, commonly called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 
  • Need-based assistance comes in two types: grant aid and self-help aid.  Grant aid does not have to be repaid or earned.  Self-help assistance consists of loans, and on or off-campus employment.  Both grant aid and self-help aid are obtained from four primary sources: institutional, private, state, and federal.
  •                Institutional -- provided and controlled by the college, university, or other
                   educational institution.
                   Private -- community organizations, foundations, professional associations,
                   corporations, and commercial lending institutions.
                   State -- usually administered through a state agency.
                   Federal -- the largest single source of student financial aid funds.
Where Do I Begin?
  • Obtaining financial aid (including scholarships) is not an easy task.  It takes time and effort.
  • First, decide to which colleges, universities, or training programs you wish to apply.  If you haven't narrowed down your choices to between three and six schools, then go to the Career Center and use Ihaveaplan to find the right schools for you.
  • Second, find out which financial aid forms are required by each of the schools, and what scholarships are offered by the post-secondary institution. 
  • Third, check the "scholarships" page on the Counseling Office Web Page or stop in the Counseling Office to find scholarships for which you may qualify.
  • Know your deadlines.  Some are as early as September 30th.  These must be met.  There are no second chances.
What is the FAFSA?
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed when applying for financial aid.  It is required by virtually all aid-granting schools, federal and state agencies.  This form should be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Various state and non-profit organizations in Iowa provide free assistance on filling out the FAFSA.  Find more details and what you'll need to bring at www.IowaCGS.org or contact the Counseling Office for more information.
  • The FAFSA asks for financial information from your most recent IRS 1040 form.
  • As with all financial aid documents, be sure to file the FAFSA as soon as you can after January 1.  Many aid-granting organizations make awards on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • To find out more about federal student aid, visit the U.S. Department of Education FAFSA web site.
Who Qualifies for Merit-Based or Academic Scholarships?
  •       Students with a GPA of 3.0 or better, ACT of 21 or better, or in the upper third of class.
          Individuals with a wide range of interests, who have been active in school, club, or
          community activities, and who take a leading role in organizing programs.
          Persons talented in art, music, drama, dance, writing, or......
          Students who need financial aid that is not based on financial need.
Other web sites for information on financial aid include:
  • Fastweb-- A free searchable scholarship database for which you have to register
          and complete a profile.
  • Financial Aid Information Page -- Rich offerings on everything from scam alerts to
         scholarship searches.  Links to home pages of university financial aid offices.
  • The Student Guide -- Financial aid primer from the U.S. Department of Education,
          plus FAFSA links.
  • Minority On-Line Information Service -- Search engine for minority scholarships and