Financial aid comes in four basic forms. Most financial aid packages will offer one, or a combination of the following:
1. Loans: these must be repaid, with interest, at the rate determined on accepting the loan.
2. Grants: these are need-based and do not have to be repaid.
3. Scholarships are based on merit or other specific criteria, and do not have to be repaid. Most are awarded through the general admission process; some scholarships require a separate application. There is more information on non university-specific scholarships here.
4. Work Study: these are campus jobs a school helps arrange for students to offset college costs.
Completing the FAFSA is the first step in the college financial aid process. This is a required form for any student seeking federal aid and contains financial information colleges use as the basis for offering. You can complete the FAFSA online at this site. October 1, 2022 is the initial deadline. Coming as close as possible to that date is beneficial.
You can receive assistance and guidance filling out FAFSA with various resources including:
US Department of Ed Parent Guide
More general information on Financial Aid can be found at:
CollegeBoard provides a number of tools and calculators to estimate costs and repayments at this link.
In addition some schools use the CSS Profile, a means by which to apply for nonfederal financial aid from nearly 400 schools listed here.