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10 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid

Financial aid is money that can help you pay for college. Some aid needs to be paid back or earned, and some aid is a gift. This money is available to all kinds of people. Here are ten important things you should know about financial aid.

Financial aid can help you go to college

Getting financial aid can make it possible for you to go to college. Or it might enable you to attend a college you thought you couldn’t afford.

There are four main sources:

Federal government (the largest source)

State governments

Colleges and universities

Private organizations

You have to apply to qualify for aid

One thing is for sure: If you don’t fill out financial aid forms, you won’t get any aid. Even if you think you may not qualify, you should still submit the forms.

The FAFSA is the place to start — and it’s free

To qualify for many types of aid, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application gives you access to these types of aid:

Grants and scholarships: money you don’t have to pay back

Work-study jobs: paid, part-time work that’s generally on campus

Loans: money you need to pay back, usually after you graduate

The FAFSA isn’t only for federal aid

The FAFSA qualifies you for federal aid, but many state governments and colleges also use this application to award their own aid.

Completing the FAFSA is convenient

Complete the form online at or download paper forms there. You can even import your family’s tax information directly from the IRS website.

More aid is out there

Once you have completed the FAFSA, you should apply for these types of aid:

Financial aid at the colleges you are applying to

Private scholarships you are eligible for

Georgia students have HOPE!

Georgia high school students are eligible for one of the national’s best scholarship and aid programs – the HOPE Scholarship. The HOPE consists of six different aid programs and has helped more than 1.7 million Georgia students at eligible state public and private universities and public technical schools.

HOPE & Zell Miller Scholarships are merit-based

These scholarships, part of Georgia’s HOPE program, are merit-based scholarships for eligible in-state postsecondardy institution.

Learn about HOPE & Zell Mill Grants

Georgia’s HOPE Grant (a separate program from the HOPE Scholarship) is available to Georgia residents who are working towards a certificate or diploma (continuing education programs are not eligible) at an eligible college or university in Georgia.

For more information on Georgia’s HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program applications, award amounts, participating institutions and other program-specific information, visit

Information sourced from the College Board and


Photo above (graduation) courtesy of Young Harris College