What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid helps pay the cost of attending college. Depending on the type of college, costs may include:

  • 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

Financial aid is based either on a student's financial need or merit, such as high grades or ability in a particular subject or sport.

Financial aid comes in four different forms:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Work Study
  • Loans

Grants and scholarships are known as "free money" because the student does not need to pay this aid back. Work study and loans are "self-help aid" because in each case, the student either needs to work in order to receive the aid or to pay the funding back, plus interest, after graduation.

Financial aid comes from a variety of sources:

  • Federal government
  • New York State
  • Colleges
  • Community organizations, associations and other groups

 Learn more about types of financial aid.


Avoid "Sticker Shock"

College-bound students and their families may experience "sticker shock" when they initially see the cost of attendance and wonder if they can afford college.

It's important to remember that the various sources and programs for financial aid can bring down the actual cost so that the student and her family will pay far less than the cost colleges initially estimate with the cost of attendance.

Learn more about how colleges award financial aid.