Paying for college is not always easy. College costs rise each year and many students and their families need some form of financial assistance to help pay these costs. Financial aid is money provided by various agencies (federal, state and local governments, universities, community organizations, and private corporations or individuals) to help students meet the costs of attending college.

    PLEASE NOTE: Students without a high school diploma or its equivalent beginning on or after July 1, 2012 will no longer qualify for to obtain federal financial aid including need-based state aid.


    Scholarships can be based on need, academic merit, academic concentration, athletic achievement, interests, or a host of other criteria. Scholarships are considered gift aid because they do not have to be paid back. Scholarships are awarded by states, institutions and departments, as well as by private companies and individuals. Scholarships may require a service commitment after you graduate in exchange for helping to finance your education.

    Grants are gift aid awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Grants do not have to be repaid but may require a service or other commitment after you graduate in exchange for helping to finance your education.

    • Federal Pell Grants – need based grants

    Student loan programs offer long-term, low-interest educational loans which allow students to defer repayment until after graduation. Generally, there are two types of education loans: Federal Education Loans (funded and/or guaranteed or insured by the federal government and Private Education/Alternative Loans (non-federal loans funded by banks and other lending institutions). Federal examples include: 

    • Subsidized Federal Direct Student Loan - low, fixed interest, and based on need
    • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loan - low, fixed interest, and not based on need
    • Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) - government guaranteed low, fixed interest, and not based on need
    • Federal Perkins Loan - low, fixed interest, subsidized, and based on need

    These are not loans, but programs funded by the state and federal government to allow students to work for an authorized work-study employer, typically on campus, during the school year.

    Students can obtain part-time jobs to assist in meeting their college costs and, if possible, gain work experience in a field related to their chosen profession. Job duties range from those demanding special research skills to those demanding only the willingness to work.


    • Students should contact their school counselor to inquire about state student assistance programs and other available financial aid or use the Scholarship Search Tool.

    • Students should contact the college/university they want to attend and request a financial aid application packet. The packet will provide them with information about the financial aid programs the school offers and the forms they will need to complete. 

    • Each College will request that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) https://fafsa.ed.gov/ . Some colleges will also require completion of other documents so be sure to contact the college to inquire about other forms they require. 

    • Application processing can take four weeks to four months from the date the completed forms are mailed before the student is notified of his or her award. 

    • The FAFSA is available starting October 1st of each year. If possible, students should apply for financial aid no later than January or February before the year they plan to begin college. A later application may reduce the amount of money the student ultimately receives. The earlier students apply, the better chance they will have of being considered for all available programs. Some programs are open for application throughout the year.
    • Students who are looking for financial assistance for summer terms should apply for financial aid in the fall of their senior year. Contact the college financial aid office for more specific instructions. 

    If you suspect that you may be a victim of a scholarship scam or financial aid fraud, report it immediately to the following organizations:

    U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General
    Hotline: 1-800-647-8733
    Email: oig.hotline@ed.gov
    Online complaint form: click here

    Federal Trade Commission
    Hotline: 1-877-382-4357
    Online complaint form: click here

    To see if a particular scholarship organization has already been reported as a scam, click here.

  • Virtual Financial Aid Night FAFSA Bright Futures Florida Financial Aid Application Scholarships