There are many different types of Financial Aid and it can come from many different sources, which is why we are trying to make it easier to understand! Make sure to check out some of the different links to learn more about the difference between loans and grants, or to answer some questions about the FAFSA and what that even means!
Notice: Up until May of 2015, the FAFSA used an electronic signature system known as the FAFSA PIN, or just PIN. This was a four (4) digit number that linked your social security number and individual financial information to your FAFSA. In May, 2015, this system changed to the new FSA ID security system. The FSA ID is more involved, more secure and requires different information than the PIN.
FSA ID: Clicking on the link provided, you can start the sign in process. You will need an email address, your social security number and some other basic information. This can take 1-3 days to process, which can block you out of your FAFSA until the processing is complete so plan accordingly. This process can be daunting, so let us help! Schedule an appointment today!
Types of Financial Aid
- Grants are free money awarded to qualified students. The Pell Grant is the most common grant awarded by the FAFSA and is based on your EFC. The Pell, any state grants that may be offered, or even school grants, can be renewed every year by completing your FAFSA before your state's priority deadline. Come in to the College Depot, we can help!
- Loans are funds provided to students (or parents in the case of the Parent PLUS Loan) and must be repaid. Some student loan programs require financial need while others do not. There are two types of loans that students will be eligible for immediately upon completion of the FAFSA, which are: the Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan and the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Be sure to read up on the differences between these two loans, and speak with your Financial Aid counselor to sign up or find out information on other private or institutional loan options.
- Unlike grants or loans, the Federal Work Study program is awarded throughout the semester, through student employment. Students can work on campus and earn funds which can be put toward a student's educational expenses, while the student gains beneficial work experience. If interested, be sure to designate so while completing the FAFSA.
- Scholarships are different from the rest because they can be obtained from many different places and can be need-based or merit-based. Most scholarships require a separate application as well as other materials (e.g. essays, letters of recommendation, etc.) and can be one time only or renewable each year. Make sure to call or visit College Depot with any Scholarship questions and make sure to check out our Scholarships page for a rotating list of upcoming opportunities .
The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is important to complete the FAFSA early in order to receive maximum consideration for free money. The FAFSA becomes available on January 1st of each year and will require student and/or parent tax information from the previous year. For more information, check out this comprehensive guide to Filling out the FAFSA, and then contact us for a workshop or FAFSA small group, where we will walk you through completing the FAFSA.
Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
Students and families are expected to contribute to the cost of college to the extent of what they are able. The FAFSA uses a complex formula to estimate what a student and family can contribute to the overall cost of college. The Estimated Family Contribution or EFC is a number that the government and most schools use when assessing how much aid a student is eligible to receive. Your can view your EFC as soon as your FAFSA is submitted. Even if you are unsure whether or not you will qualify for any government aid, it is a good idea to complete the FAFSA so that you and your school can view your EFC.
Make sure to follow the links provided to find out more information, and check out the rest of the College Depot website. You can also call us at 602-261-8847 and schedule an appointment!