What is Financial Aid?

What is student financial aid?

Financial Aid is any grant or scholarship, loan, or paid employment offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses such as the following:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses
  • Required loan fees
  • Study abroad costs
  • Dependent care expenses
  • Expenses related to a student's disability

Such aid is usually provided by various sources such as federal and state agencies, colleges, high schools, foundations, and corporations. The amount of financial aid that a student receives is determined through federal, state and institutional guidelines.

Grants include aid the student receives that need not be repaid; loans must be repaid. Interest rates and repayment terms vary by program. Employment is aid based on an hourly rate for work performed. There are four basic types of financial aid: 

A grant is considered gift aid (i.e., money which does not need to be repaid). Grants are usually given to students based solely on a demonstration of financial need. For federal grants, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. For state grants, student must submit a New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application each year. Both applications are available to students and parents as of October 1st.

Examples of Grants:
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

The term "scholarship" can have many meanings. At its most basic meaning, a scholarship is money for college that you will not be expected to repay. A scholarship is a financial award given to a student on the basis of academic achievement and promise. Many scholarships are awarded based on merit. However, some also take into account financial need.

Scholarships sponsored by colleges are often designated for students who fit a particular profile (from the college's home state, holding a specified grade average, enrolling in a particular major or bringing special talent in athletics, music, and the like).  Other outside scholarships may be available to students whose parents work for a particular company or to students who are eligible for scholarships sponsored by church or civic organizations.

Scholarships typically require the student submitting additional applications to the organization(s) offering the scholarship.

Work Study
The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a need based federally funded program that offer students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience that will enhance their job skills.

FWS employment may be offered to student employees in several ways: on campus, off campus, and/or through Public Service Corp (PSC). The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.  Typical jobs include clerical work; providing overall assistance to departments such as the Library, Computer Labs, tutoring and child care center.

Loans are aid funds that are borrowed and must be repaid at a future date with interest. Student loans can come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources.

To learn the differences between federal and private loans please refer to the link below: Federal Versus Private Loans | Federal Student Aid