Comprehensive College Financial Aid Planning


Discover ways to get money for a college education

More than half of all students in school today are receiving some form of financial aid. About 15 billion dollars in free grants are given to students each year.  The most common grant is the Pell Grant. Another $15 billion is dispursed in federal student loans. In addition to these two federal forms of student aid, a wide range of private organizations provide an estimated $4.5 billion annually in grants and scholarships.

The different types of financial aid and financial planning are discussed in five catagories on Each family should start early and take plenty of time to review all money sources. Explore each of the sources of financing shown under the site navigation in the right hand column.

What is Financial Aid?

Financial Aid is money that comes from sources other than the student and the student's family to pay for school. There are many types of financial aid. Most types of financial aid the amount of the aid is based upon the family's financial need. There are two main catagories of need-based financial aid:

  1. (1) Aid you will not have to pay back;
  2. (2) Aid you will have to pay back;

Some scholarships are not based upon the financial need of the family. This kind of scholarship is known as merit based aid.

Why Financial Aid?

It is not just for the benefit of students, though that is what most people think. Society needs college grads and lawmakers and governments recognize this need as well as the prohibitive cost of a college education for most families.

Most students at college today are using some type of financial aid to pay. The huge investment for a college education would easily rule out 3/4 of all students by financial reasons. A private college cost of attendance now exceeds $40,000 per year on average (including tuition, fees, room and board). Even public universities can run $20,000 per year(including tuition, fees, room and board). These numbers are simply out of reach for most people.

First Step to Get Financial Aid


Since you are looking at financial aid information, you may already know about the FAFSA form. The first step to receiving federal student aid of any kind is to fill out the FAFSA. Do not put this off because there are deadlines. The amount of student financial aid is limited, so if you miss any deadlines with the FAFSA you may put your application for aid in jeapordy. The school may pare down applicants in a number of ways, including those who filed their ap too late past the deadline.

If you haven't done so yet you should go to the Department of Education Website and download the FAFSA form from The FAFSA is a federal form. You will only need to fill out this main form one time and then in consecutive years there is merely a shorter update form each time. This is easy to procrastinate.  Don't procrasinate. Bookmark this page and go get your FAFSA form from the DOE site. Once you are on the DOE site,  it explains how to fill out the fafsa and all the info you will need to put on it. Even though it looks like a lot of stuff, just take it one step at a time and you will knock it out.If it makes you feel any better, everybody does it. Then, when you have your FAFSA papers, return here to look at the five catagories of ways to find and get money for school on the other pages of

The next forms you will do after the FAFSA is to complete your financial aid applications for each of the schools the student is most likely to attend. But let's take this one step at a time.  Go get the FAFSA now.

10 Most Common FAFSA Mistakes

  1. 10. Completing the FAFSA as a married student but sending it in before your marriage date.
  2. 9. Completing the FAFSA as a married student but forgetting to combine your spouse's taxable income with your own.
  3. 8. Forgetting to carefully complete worksheets A, B and C and reporting the results on the appropriate line of the FAFSA.
  4. student working on the FAFSA ap
  5. 7. Forgetting to report earned income credit using worksheet A.
  6. 6. Reporting income tax withheld instead of income tax paid.
  7. 5. Leaving questions blank. Remember to fill in all questions unless instructed otherwise.
  8. 4. Mailing in FAFSA without proper signatures from student and parents if applicable.
  9. 3. Failure to list names and Title IV codes of colleges you are considering attending.
  10. 2. Using a W-2 statement instead of the 1040 to do the FAFSA.
  11. 1. Not Reading the Instructions

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