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Financial Aid. What is it? How does it work?

A Word From CCU
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Financial aid helps students, and their families, pay for the costs of higher education. This could mean covering costs for tuition and fees, room and board, and/or books, supplies, and transportation. 

"How much financial aid will I receive?"

The amount of aid a student receives depends on the federal, state, and institutional guidelines. It is possible to pay for most of your education with financial aid but, you might be limited in the amount that you receive if you choose an expensive school, or already generate a substantial income. 

"What are my options for federal student financial aid?"

Federal Pell Grant

  • For low income undergraduate students
  • Available to every student who qualifies
  • Maximum yearly amount can change each school year
  • Granted for up to 12 semesters

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

  • For low income undergraduate students
  • Administered daily by participating schools
  • Maximum amounts from $100 to $4,000 per school year

Teacher Education Assistant for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

  • For students who are willing to become teachers in low-income areas or high-need fields for at least 4 years within 8 years after graduation
  • Up to $4,000 each school year

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

  • For low income undergraduate and graduate students
  • Government pays interest while student is in school, for up to six months after leaving school
  • School designates how much you can borrow

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • For undergraduate and graduate students
  • No requirements to prove financial need
  • Responsible for paying all interest
  • School designates how much you can borrow

Federal PLUS Loan

  • For graduate students and parents of undergraduate students
  • Helps supplement other forms of aid

Federal Perkins Loan

  • For undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need
  • Administered by participating schools

Federal Work-Study

  • Funds schools to supply part-time jobs for students in college with financial need
  • May provide an on or off-campus job


"Do I have to pay back financial aid?"

Yes and no. Grants and scholarships are types of “gift aid” that does not have to be repaid. However, loans are a different kind of aid.

With student loans, you are required to repay the original amount of every loan, plus interest.

Here's the breakdown: 


  • A monetary gift that you do not have to repay
  • Usually awarded based on your level of financial need
  • Sometimes based on GPA, race, nationality, or the state you live in


  • A monetary reward that does not have to be paid back
  • Usually awarded based on academic, artistic, or athletic achievement


  • A sum of money that must be paid back in regular payments
  • Sometimes subsidized by the government (i.e., the government pays the interest on the loan while you are still in school)

"How do I apply for financial aid?"

When applying for government student aid, you generally need to have:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • U.S. citizenship or be an eligible non-citizen
  • A valid Social Security number
  • No federal student loans in default
  • Acceptance or enrollment in an eligible post-secondary program
The actual process begins when you will out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


The FAFSA needs to be completed each year that you will be a student because your eligibility for aid may change. You can begin filling out the form as early as Oct. 1st for the following academic year and the deadline is June 30th. 

Finding scholarships may be as easy as:

  • Searching the Internet
  • Going to the library
  • Talking to your school's financial aid office