College financial aid is money given by the Federal and State governments and the colleges to help students pay for the cost of a college education. There are several types of aid available including grants and scholarships, work-study programs and educational loans.
College work-study and educational loans are considered self-help aid. Grants and scholarships are considered gift aid and do not have to be paid back. Some of these grants and scholarships are based on merit, and some are based on need.
Merit-based scholarships are tied to scholastic, athletic, or talent performance. Need-based grants from colleges are usually in the form of tuition incentives or waivers meant to attract the student.
To qualify for financial aid the student must attend class on at least a half-time basis. Half time consists of six (6) semester or quarter hours per academic term. The student must also maintain satisfactory academic progress to retain financial aid eligibility status. To be eligible for any of this money/aid a family MUST file a FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid.