What You Need To Know About Financial Aid

Miracle Huff, Staff Writer

November 1 was financial aid night for the seniors of Falls Church High School. It was an opportunity for parents of students to learn about ways they can gain financial assistance to pay for college expenses. If you weren’t able to attend, here are some important things you should know as you prepare to go to college.
Financial Aid is more or less the financial assistance you obtain to be able to cover some, if not all, of your college expenses. It helps cover the cost between your cost of attendance and what the family is expected to pay. Financial aid is important to everyone but especially for those who cannot pay for college expenses every year.
Many students going to college use financial aid and it is vital for getting into college unless you are set on paying all college expenses yourself. Remember college expenses are not just tuition and room and board. There is a cost of attendance which is the estimated of total cost of attending a school for a year. This includes tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. The cost of attendance will vary depending on if you are going to a private school, a public school, or an out-of-state public school.
Some sources of financial aid include the federal government, colleges and universities, private foundations, religious or civic or professional organizations, and also employers. These are all sources of financial aid to look to before you resort to loans. There are four types of financial aid: grants, scholarships, work study, and loans. You can get obtain federal grants, state grants, or college/university grants which you will not have to pay back.
You may also get a scholarship which is need-based or merit-based. These scholarships are awarded by colleges/universities, private foundations, and civic or religious, and professional organizations. You may also receive one from an employer.
Work study is a type of financial aid where you work either on or off campus and receive a check directed towards paying college fees. And finally there are loans—make sure this is your last resort.
Loans are a type of financial aid that you do have to pay back, so be careful about how much debt you are taking on. Applying for financial aid varies for different schools. Most schools require that you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. But there are also some schools that require a CSS Profile or intuitional forms. Check with your institution to find out what forms you need. If you and your family have more questions about financial aid, make an appointment to see Mrs. Foster in the Career Center.