How to Apply for Financial Aid

financial aid for college

Many students know they need financial aid to help pay for college. The confusing part is where to get it. There’s a lot that goes into finding financial aid, so we’ve broken down your options. If you’re wondering how to apply for financial aid for college, start here!

How to Apply for Federal Financial Aid

Federal financial aid is the best place to start on the hunt for money for college. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans that come from the federal government. To apply, you’ll need to file the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

From there, the Department of Education will assess your eligibility for the need-based forms of aid above and will work with your school (or the schools you’re considering) to put together an offer for you. Once you accept it, your school’s financial aid office will apply the aid, and you’re ready to go for the school year. You’ll have to file the FAFSA every year if you want financial aid.

How to Apply for Private Financial Aid

This is where applying for financial aid can get complicated, simply because there are so many avenues out there. But that’s a good thing, because it means there’s a lot of financial aid available!

Many students find that there is still a gap left over after federal financial aid and what their college’s total cost of attendance is. You’ll need to find more financial aid to cover the rest. Here are a few places to start your search:

  • Scholarship sites

There are lots of scholarship sites out there that can help you find scholarships or that give away scholarships themselves. Did you know we’re giving away a $4,500 scholarship for college right now?

Many of these types of scholarship drawings are easy to apply for and don’t require an essay. It’s worthwhile to find and apply for as many of these as you can, because they’re little work for an easy reward!

  • State or local businesses and organizations

Federal financial aid awards federal scholarships, but there are still plenty of private businesses and organizations in your state or hometown that give away scholarships. Check around online and ask your school’s financial aid office to see if there are any scholarships available near you.

  • Ask your financial aid office

Your college is a great resource to find financial aid, too! Most schools award scholarships to their own students depending on your department or major. Ask the financial aid office if there are any opportunities like this at your school.

  • Look for private student loans

After you’ve exhausted federal financial aid and free aid like grants and scholarships, many students turn to private student loans to help cover the rest. These are a great resource to help pay for gaps in financial aid. Do your research to find the best option for you, and check out these top student loan sites to get started.