College Glossary: F

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FAFSA – See Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Financial Aid – money provided to a student and/or his or her family to help pay for a student’s education. There are basically two types of financial aid provided to college-bound students: need-based aid and merit-based aid. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. These types of aid are combined to create an “award package.” The type and amount of aid you receive is determined by financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of your application.

Financial Aid Package – total financial aid award received by a student from all sources (federal, state, institutional, and private). The financial aid package typically includes a combination of aid (grants, student loans, scholarships, and work-study).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – official application that needs to be completed in order to apply for virtually all types of financial aid (federal, state, or institutional) for higher education. This form is distributed and processed by the United States Department of Education and should be completed as soon in possible in January of your senior year (and then in subsequent years) — once you have basic income and tax-related information for your family.