We recommend that you and your students visit StudentAid.gov/types for information on financial aid from the federal government and from states, schools, and private sources. Eligibility criteria for federal student aid are described at StudentAid.gov/eligibility.
Federal Student Aid
Aid is available from the federal government in the form of grants, work-study funds, and loans. Students use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form to apply. Besides referring your students to the information at StudentAid.gov/types to learn about federal aid, you also can recommend they visit StudentAid.gov/resources for fact sheets, videos, and infographics. Meanwhile, you can access those items and more here on the Financial Aid Toolkit. We've provided a feature to help you search financial aid tools and resources that you can use in advising students about aid.
State Financial Aid
To find out about state financial aid for college, try www.ed.gov/sgt to find your state agency's website.
Talking point: Often, students and parents comment that they don't qualify for federal aid or they qualify for too small an amount. State aid could help fill in some of the gaps.
Financial Aid From the College
Many colleges offer financial aid from their own funds. Direct your students to visit a school's financial aid website for information about aid available at that school. For students with an interest in a particular area of study, encourage them to inquire about any available scholarships in that area or department.
- When a student submits the FAFSA® form, he or she is automatically applying for aid from not only the federal government but also the state and—in many cases—the college(s) he or she has listed on the FAFSA form.
- Students should be sure to meet any financial aid deadlines the school may have.
One of the most frequent questions we hear from students at college fairs or financial aid information events is, "How do I get free money to help me pay for college?" While the FAFSA form is an application for certain free money (grants and scholarships), not all students will qualify. That's why we've provided information to help them find and apply for scholarships at StudentAid.gov/scholarships.
- Students should spend the summer between their junior and senior years of high school looking for scholarships, determining which ones are right for them, noting application deadlines, and submitting any applications that they possibly can at that point. They'll have plenty to keep them busy during fall of senior year, so getting a head start will make a difference in levels of stress and anxiety.
Avoiding Financial Aid Scams
Financial aid scams are less prevalent now than they were 10 or 15 years ago, but you'll still want to remind students to keep their eyes open as they look for financial aid for college. Refer them to StudentAid.gov/scams for tips.
- You can find plenty of sources of financial aid without paying anyone for help or paying an application fee for the aid.
- The first F in "FAFSA" stands for "Free."
Eligibility for Federal Student Aid
Eligibility for federal student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors such as U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizenship, enrollment in an eligible program, satisfactory academic progress in college, and more. The full list of our basic eligibility criteria is on our student site.
Tip: A quick URL to share with your students for information on federal student aid eligibility criteria is StudentAid.gov/eligibility.
Talking point: There is no such thing as an income cut-off for federal student aid. Eligibility is based on a number of factors, including a complicated mathematical formula. No student should assume that he or she won't qualify for federal aid. Filling out the FAFSA form is the only way to find out. And please remind your students that the FAFSA form is also an application for state and school aid—and many schools won't consider a student for their aid (even merit-based aid) unless the student submits a FAFSA form.