The term financial aid is commonly used to describe any monetary assistance that is provided to college students to pay for their education expenses. Aid can be provided in the form of loans, scholarships, or grants, and can be provided by federal and state institutes or private entities. The federal government provides the most educational funding, offering over nine different programs primarily based on need. States are typically more specific in the assistance they provide, with most aid awarded based on academic need, merit, or career choices, such as teaching in underprivileged communities. In either case, award money might need to be repaid after graduation.
Colleges and universities provide their own assistance in many different ways. They offer scholarships, loans, and grants and offer students campus aid in the form of work-study programs. The accounting major might find private sources for aid through civic organizations, associations, clubs, or businesses. Some private funding does require membership or affiliation with the source; however, other types of financial support come from entities with a specific agenda, such as research-related endowments.
The amount of financial aid a person can receive depends upon how much the student needs toward the cost of his or her education. There is available aid for every domestic and international student; moreover, aid is given to parents who want to assist their children in college.
All schools have financial aid counselors to help explain what type of assistance and resources are available.
Many resources and information about college financing are on the Web. As the price of post-secondary schools increase, it becomes essential for parents and students to investigate ways to save money. As there are no guarantees in receiving money, saving early is key. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 66 percent of undergraduates received an average of $9,100 in financial aid in 2007-2008. Grants were provided to 52 percent, and 38 percent received a student loan. These statistics prove how important financial assistance is to education.
In 2006, financial aid laws changed to include online programs and allow students the ability to receive financial assistance. Although not all schools still qualify, the prospective student should check with the financial aid office about eligibility. In addition, many distance-learning schools offer their own aid and scholarships.
This change has occurred in part due to the demand and flexibility virtual learning has to offer. Currently, federal aid, private loans, grants, and scholarships may be used toward an accredited online school.