February is Financial Aid Awareness Month which is a perfect time to answer questions you may have about the financial aid process. In the simplest of terms, financial aid is money to help pay for college. The basic types of aid can be grouped into three categories – free money, earned money and borrowed money. Let’s learn a bit about each of these!
Free money is money that doesn’t have to be repaid. The most common types of free money are grants and scholarships, which are provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the state of Oklahoma, and other private, corporate and tribal sources. Grants are usually based on your financial need. Financial need is determined by your completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes including academic, athletic, hobbies and interests, affiliations and more.
Earned money, or work-study, is also based on your financial need and is an opportunity to work in a part-time job while you’re in college. You can use your earnings to help pay college expenses. If you don’t qualify for a work-study job, you may want to check out the college’s career center to apply for a campus job or look for part-time work on your own.
Borrowed money means taking out a loan. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest. If you apply for financial aid, you may be eligible to borrow loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the loan. Student loans can come from the federal government, from private sources such as a bank or financial institution, or from other organizations. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually have more benefits than loans from banks or other private sources.
To learn more about the types of financial aid available to Oklahoma college students and the FAFSA, explore these links that are packed with valuable information: