Student Aid

Financial Aid for Students

Guides students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, updated April 2015 .

The basics: getting started


Student aid and where it comes from


Basic assistance categories:

  • Financial need-based
    Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can -- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.

  • Non need-based
    Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership. Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children.

Federal Student Aid:

States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.

Colleges and universities provide some 20% of aid, most need-based. Check university Web sites and the institution’s financial aid office when you apply for admission.

Private foundations, corporations, and organizations offer scholarships or grants:
College Board Scholarship Search
Grants for Individuals

Targeted aid for special groups


Interested in public service?

Federal assistance programs seek to encourage people to work in geographic areas or professions where there’s a particular need (such as doctors in underserved areas); encourage underrepresented groups to enter a particular profession; and provide aid in exchange for services provided (such as military service).

Aid for private K-12 education: No direct federal assistance, check with schools themselves:

Repaying your loans


After college, the federal government has ways to help you repay your loans.

Merete F. Gerli x77109