Financial Aid is a general term encompassing all different sources of money to help you pay for your college education. It includes grants, scholarships, loans, and work study. As you apply to each college, be aware of financial aid deadlines for each school. Check the college website for specific financial aid for the school, or call their financial aid office.
A Grant is free money that you get from the federal government (Pell Grant), state government (Cal Grant), or your college. You get grants because your family is financially needy and you qualify academically and/or residentially, and you do not have to pay the money back.
A Scholarship is free money that you get from your college or an outside agency because you have done something special—you have great grades, you have volunteered, you are talented in some way, you are an athlete, you are a member of a certain group, you want to pursue a certain career, etc. You can get scholarships directly from your college, or apply for them on your own. Scholarship applications and information are available in Naviance and in the AHS College and Career Center. You never need to pay any person or company to find scholarships for you!
A Loan is money that is loaned to you or your parents by the federal government, private institutions, or the college. Loans must be paid back. There are many different types of loans. For a more detailed description of loans, go to www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov., or pick up a brochure in the AHS College and Career Center.
College Work Study programs are jobs that are given to you by the college so that you may earn money while you are attending their campus. You may also choose to get or keep your own jobs that you may already have. A portion of what you earn goes towards your tuition.
Financial Aid Forms - Be sure to fill out the FAFSA form between January 1 and March 2 of your senior year. FAFSA information and applications can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Some private colleges may require you to fill out an additional form called the CSS Profile, which can be found on www.collegeboard.org. Cal Grant GPA Verification Forms, if required, may be downloaded from the California Student Aid Commission at www.CalGrants.org and must be signed by your counselor. You will not be able to get grants, loans, or work study unless you fill out these forms on time. In order to fill out the FAFSA, you need to have a social security number and be either a U.S. citizen or have an alien registration number. AB 540 students may apply for the California Dream Act at www.caldreamact.org.
Remember the March 2 deadline for most colleges!
(Some out-of-state colleges may be earlier).