Maximize Your Financial Aid (Grants & Scholarships) Eligibility

Maximize Your Financial Aid (Grants & Scholarships) Eligibility

Maximize Your Financial Aid (Grants & Scholarships) EligibilityMaximize Your Financial Aid (Grants & Scholarships) Eligibility

What is Financial Aid?

Even though financial aid was originally intended for those who needed it most; it actually goes to those who know the most about the process.     -News & World Reports  


Financial Aid is

money which helps students and their families pay for college. This financial assistance covers not only tuition & fees but related educational expenses including room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are several types of financial aid: Gift-aid (grants and scholarships) and Self-help aid (work- study and loans). 

Sources of Financial Aid

    Financial Aid  comes from:

  • The Federal Government (the largest source)
  • State Government
  • College & Universities
  • Private Organizations such as companies, clubs and religious organizations, etc.


Types of Financial Aid

There are four main types of financial aid: 

Grants & Scholarships (Gift-Aid) and Loans & Work-Study (Self-help Aid)

1. Grants are called gift-aid because you don't have to be paid back. Grants come from the federal and state governments, and colleges. Most grants are need-based which means that they are usually given based on a family's financial situation.

  •  Federal Pell Grants:  A Federal Pell Grant is a need-based aid and ranges up to $5,815. The minimum grant is about $600.  Undergraduate students in four-year programs may receive a Pell Grant for up to six years. A student with a bachelor's degree is ineligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. 
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant:  The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is need-based aid (priority given to Pell Grant recipients) and ranges up to $4,000. The college determines the amount that a student receives from this federal grant. A student with a bachelor's degree is also ineligible to receive an SEOG Grant.  
  • Competitiveness (AC) Grant:  The AC grant encourages students to take more challenging courses in high school and to pursue college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, mathematics, technology, engineering and critical foreign languages. In addition to the Pell Grant amount, up to $750 will be awarded to eligible first-year AC Grant students and up to $1,300 to second-year AC Grant students.  
  • National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant:  The SMART Grant provides for up to $4,000 each year in addition to the Pell Grant funds. Financial aid officers at four-year-degree-granting colleges and universities will be able to determine which of their Pell Grant students are eligible for a National SMART Grant. There is no need for the student to provide any information beyond what was submitted with their FAFSA.  
  • State Grants:  Some states provide both merit-based and need-based for college-bound students. The criteria for these grants vary by state and can be substantial. 
  • Institutional (Private College) Scholarships / Grants: Scholarships and grants given to students directly from the private college’s own institutional funds can be both merit-based and need-based. Colleges get these funds from their endowment coffers, or by giving a tuition discount (arbitrary discount from the price). 

2. Scholarships are also gift-aid. These come from governments, colleges and private organizations. They usually are awarded for individual accomplishments such as academic  achievement, athletic or artistic ability, interests, volunteer work, etc.

3. Loans: Borrowing money from a bank, government or lending company is to take out a loan. A loan must be paid back with interest. The Federal government offers low-interest loans to students with financial need. 

4. Work-Study Programs: College programs that enable students to work part-time while attending school.  

  • Federal work-study is an 8-15 hour-a-week job at the minimum wage rate. Many colleges administer this need-based program. 
  • College work-study is a work program set up by the individual college and can be based on the need or the merit of the student. Each individual college sets its own work variables. 
  • State work-study is a work program set up by individual states. 


How to Apply for Financial Aid

The student must apply and be accepted for enrollment by the college in order to receive financial aid. The student must complete an application for financial aid (financial aid form). The two basic types of financial applications are the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and the CSS PROFILE forms.

1. FAFSA Process

The FAFSA form is used to calculate the Federal Methodology EFC and is used by every accredited college in the country to calculate a student’s need. Filling out the FAFSA can be a straightforward and easy process. The online FAFSA at will guide you through the application; click on the “Start A New FAFSA” button on the home page, and just follow the directions on the screen.


The CSS PROFILE form is used by about 300 elite private colleges to calculate the Institutional Methodology EFC (IM). As with the FAFSA, certain colleges have their own deadlines for filing this form. These elite schools use the CSS/PROFILE to consider financial aid that it will distribute from its own institutional offers.

Registration and completion of the CSS/PROFILE form can only be done via the Internet. Since there is a registration fee, as well as a processing fee per school, you should carefully review each college's financial aid requirements in order to determine which ones need the PROFILE information.

Financial Aid Formula


How to calculate Financial Need

Needs analysis is the process of determining the financial need of the student. If a student has no financial need the student will not be eligible for most types of federal, state, or college financial aid. Needs analysis is calculated using the following formula:


  Cost of Attendance (COA)

- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

= Financial Need

- Resources of the Student

= Adjusted Financial Need

What is EFC?

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money that the family is expected to contribute to the total cost of college. The EFC is computed by using family financial data submitted on the financial aid application form(s) submitted. By gaining your EFC, you can estimate how much your family will be expected to contribute for the year.