Financial Aid & Scholarships

What Is Financial Aid?

You want to go to college. You know it’s important for your future success. But going to college costs a lot. You have to pay for tuition and fees, books, a place to live, and a way to get around. You’re probably wondering how you’ll pay for it all. Here’s some good news:

There’s a lot of money out there to help you pay for college. It’s called financial aid, and everyone should apply for it! 

Start thinking about financial aid early so that when you’re a senior in high school, you’ll have a plan to pay for college. Learn some financial aid basics to get you started. 

What kinds of financial aid can you get?

There are a few main kinds of financial aid you need to know.

Grants and Scholarships

  • Grants and scholarships are free money. Sometimes, they’re called “gift aid.” You don’t have to pay them back. 

  • They’re the best kind of financial aid. 

  • The money may come from the federal or state government, your college, private organizations, or companies.

Learn more about federal and state financial aid and scholarships.


  • Work-study is earned money. 

  • After free money, it’s your next best option for paying for college. 

  • You’ll work part-time while you go to school.  

  • Jobs may be on- or off-campus. They may be related to your major or focus on community service. 

  • Work-Study money may come from the federal government or your college. 


Learn more about work-study.


  • Loans are borrowed money. After you graduate, you’ll have to pay it back, plus interest.

  • If free and earned money aren’t enough to pay for college, you may need a student loan.

  • Federal loans cost less over time than most private loans. They also offer more ways to pay the money back. 

Learn more about student loans

Think about financial aid as you explore colleges! 

Here are a couple points to remember as you build your college list.

  • If you live in California, think about going to college in California. You can pay lower, in-state tuition and get state financial aid. 

  • Net Price is what your college will cost after free money. In other words, it’s how much you’ll really have to pay. It’s the best number to look at as you plan how to pay for college. Learn how to find the net price of colleges on your list.

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