The Ultimate Guide to Study Aid: Find and Apply - Crimson Education US (2023)

A scholarship is a form of financial aid that helps students pay for higher education. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid and can come from a variety of sources, such as federal or state governments, private organizations, or the educational institution itself. Here we provide a guide to applying for student finance.

What is a college scholarship?

Scholarships are a valuable form of financial aid that can help students afford higher education without racking up large debts. Scholarships are essentially free funds that students receive from various sources, such as the federal or state government, private organizations, or the educational institution itself. They can be awarded based on a student's financial need, academic performance, or other achievements.

What is the difference between grants, loans and scholarships?

Scholarships, loans, and grants are all forms of financial aid that students can use to pay for their education. However, there are some important differences between them:

  1. scholarshipUsually based on need and no refund required. They are awarded to students based on their financial need and can come from federal, state, institutional or private sources. Scholarships are usually awarded to students who demonstrate financial need, academic achievement, or other criteria set by the scholarship provider.
  2. loanAndLoaned moneyMust be repaid with interest. They are for students who may not be eligible for scholarships or grants or who need extra money to pay for their education. Loans can come from federal or private lenders, and repayments usually begin after a student graduates or leaves school.
  3. scholarshipIs performance-oriented and does not require a refund. they areassigned to studentsBased on their academic performance, talent or other criteria set by the scholarship provider. Scholarships can come from a variety of sources, including colleges and universities, private organizations, and community groups.
Type of subsidy
type of subsidypublishereligibility criterianeeded fileexample
based on needsFederal government, state governments, and colleges and universitiesdemonstrate financial needFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
choose the bestColleges and universities, private organizations and foundationsHigh academic performance, such as a high GPA or standardized test scores. Other factors to consider include leadership, community service, athletic ability, or artistic talent.personal application
Federal PelUnited States Department of EducationOnly applies to Bachelor's students. Other factors to consider include financial need, cost of attendance, and enrollment statusFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
standsState governmentA resident of the state and attending a college or university in the state. Other eligibility requirements may include maintaining a certain GPA or pursuing a specific major.personal application
specific professiongovernment, private organization or professional associationFinancial need, academic achievement or other criteriapersonal applicationNational Health Service Scholarship Scheme, TEACH Grant Scheme
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How the university's financial aid works

1. Apply for financing

The scholarship application process may vary depending on the type of scholarship and the organization or institution offering it. Don't wait until the last minute to start the application process to increase your chances of being approved. Giving yourself time to apply will give you the opportunity to research all the necessary documents required for your application.

Also, be sure to read and understand all grant application instructions before you begin. This will help you avoid mistakes and ensure you provide all required information.

2. Details of the reward amount received

The amount you can receive for student finance changes every year. For example, students can earn the highestFederal Pell grant$7,395 for the 2023-2024 school year. However, the maximum amount a student can receive for the 2022-2023 academic year is $6,895.

3. Disbursement of Funds

University aid payouts can vary depending on the aid program and the college or university you attend. Grant funds are usually disbursed at the beginning of each term or semester. Exact times may vary by program and school, so please contact your school's financial aid office for more information.

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Grants can be paid in a variety of ways, including automatic deposit, paper check, or prepaid debit card. Scholarships can be used directly towards your college expenses such as tuition, fees, and room and board. If the scholarship amount exceeds your total cost, you can get a refund of the remaining balance. It is important to note that grants may be subject to certain limitations or restrictions. For example, some scholarships only cover tuition and fees, while others allow more flexibility in the use of funds.

Apply for student finance

The steps for applying for scholarships in the USA may vary depending on the specific scholarship program you are applying for. However, some general steps that may be involved in the process are:

  1. Determine subsidy program: Research and determine the funding program that best fits your educational needs and eligibility criteria.Institutional funding programScholarships are grants offered by individual colleges or universities to help students fund their education. You should seek out funding agencies and organizations that finance the type of work you are interested in. You can start by doing an internet search, checking databases like the Foundation Center or, and then checking academic websites for funding opportunities or the websites of professional organizations.
  2. View application guidelines: Please review the application guidelines for the funding programs carefully for requirements, submission deadlines and eligibility criteria.
  3. Collect necessary documents: Gather all necessary documents for the application, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and proof of eligibility, such as tax returns, bank statements, and other financial or personal information. For federal grants you needApply for the FAFSAThe process for applying for government grants may vary by state and by specific grant program.
  4. ready to apply: Follow the application guidelines and carefully prepare your application. Note the format, word limit, and any other requirements specified in the guidelines. Before formally submitting, please carefully review all documents you submit to ensure they are accurate and complete. Errors or omissions may delay the processing of your application or even result in a rejection. Also, make sure to submit the required documents on time.
  5. apply a request: Submit your application before the deadline stated in the grant program guidelines. Most grant applications are submitted online, but some may require hard copies. Make photocopies of all required documents before submitting. This is useful if there are problems with your application or if you need to provide additional information at a later date. Late applications may not be considered, which may affect your eligibility for funding.
  6. follow up: After submitting an application, follow up on the grant program to ensure it has been received and processed. If you received a scholarship, follow all other steps necessary to receive your money.

It is important to note that different funding programs may have unique application processes and requirements. Therefore, specific application guidelines should be read carefully and followed closely to increase your chances of receiving funding.

Tips for maximizing your study aid opportunities

1. Apply early

Some grant programs have limited funding and are available on a first come, first served basis. Applying early will increase your chances of qualifying for a scholarship before the money runs out. In addition, many funding programs have application deadlines, and applying early can ensure you have enough time to complete your application and collect all required documents before the deadline.

2. Submit a strong application

Apowerful applicationRequires careful planning, attention to detail and attention to your strengths and experience. To stand out, it is important to follow the instructions carefully, tailor your application to the specific scholarship, use clear and concise language and check your application for errors. By doing so, you can showcase your achievements, explain any weaknesses, and show how the scholarship will help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

3. Get good grades

Many funding programs have admission requirements based on academic merit. For example, some grants may be requiredMinimum GPAOr require you to maintain satisfactory study progress. If you maintain good grades, you may also qualify for additional financial aid opportunities, such as merit-based scholarships. These scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and may provide additional financial support for your education.

4. Explore additional funding arrangements

Start your research early and give yourself enough time to identify and apply for all relevant funding programs. There are many online resources that can help you identify financial aid programs, such as the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website, scholarship search engines, and online databases of financial aid opportunities.

If you're having trouble finding more online opportunities, contact your school's financial aid office. Your school's financial aid office can be a valuable resource in identifying grant programs available to you. They can also advise on the application process and eligibility requirements.

5. Follow up on your request

After submitting your application, we recommend that you wait a reasonable amount of time before proceeding. Then send a polite email or call the funder to ask about the status of your application. You can ask them if they've received your application, when the review process will begin, and when you expect to hear back. Follow-up shows that you are interested in and committed to the funding opportunity and can help you understand where you are in the process. Remember to be polite, professional and respectful in your communications.

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Learn more about grant updates

Grant renewals are an important consideration for students receiving financial aid. Many grants are renewable, meaning they can be awarded for many years, subject to certain conditions being met.

Students typically must reapply each year to continue receiving scholarships, and deadlines may vary by program and school. It is important for students to plan ahead and understand the renewal requirements of each financial aid program to ensure they can continue to receive financial aid after graduation and minimize debt. In addition, students should explore other financial aid options in case they are unable to renew their scholarships, such as grants, loans, or work-study programs.

final thoughts

Scholarships play a key role in helping students finance their education and achieve their academic and career goals. Scholarships can provide additional support services to help students overcome challenges they may face and thrive academically. By taking advantage of available scholarship programs, students can maximize opportunities for financial aid and take an important step toward realizing their dreams.

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common problem

Are student loans only for low-income students?

No, student finance is not just for low-income students. Some scholarships may be available to students who meet specific entry requirements, such as being a first-generation college student, serving in the military, or pursuing a specific field of study.

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Can I receive multiple grants?

Yes, multiple grants are possible! Students can apply for as many scholarships as they want and can receive funding from a number of sources. Students are generally advised to apply for as many scholarships as possible to maximize their chances of receiving financial aid.

How long does it take to get student finance?

The time it takes to receive college financial aid can vary by financial aid program and school. In general, it can take weeks or even months for the financial aid office to process and award financial aid to eligible students.

Key resources and further reading

  • Join our free webinar on US university applications
  • Free eBooks and guides to help with the college application process


What type of financial aid can you apply through the FAFSA? ›

The FAFSA® form allows students to request federal grants, work-study, and loans, all in one application. The FAFSA® form allows students to request federal grants, work-study, and loans, all in one application.

Which is the best description of how a scholarship differs from a federal education grant? ›

In general, grants are given based on financial-need, while scholarships are merit-based and awarded to students based on their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, field of study, and more.

Why is completing the FAFSA an important step in this process? ›

Filling out the FAFSA is required to tap into federal and state financial aid, and most institutional grants and scholarships. Did you know that the large majority of students who complete the FAFSA receive at least some form of financial aid?

How does FAFSA money work? ›

If your FAFSA qualifies you for federal grants, loans, or work-study programs, that money is disbursed directly to your school. With grants or loans, your school will apply that money toward your tuition, fees, and room and board (if you live on campus).

Does everyone get approved for FAFSA? ›

Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at your college or career school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

Who is eligible for FAFSA 2023? ›

Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen with a valid Social Security number (with certain exceptions). Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a qualifying degree or certificate program. Maintain satisfactory academic progress while in school.

Is scholarship better than financial aid? ›

Primarily, students should remember that the difference between financial aid and scholarships is that scholarships do not need to be paid back. For this reason, it is important to pursue as many scholarship opportunities as possible, as well as grant programs, to finance education.

What is the difference between federal student aid and financial aid? ›

For students, the major difference between federal and state financial aid is that the federal government offers a standardized set of awards and has an equally standardized application procedure for getting them.

What is the difference between federal Pell Grant and financial aid? ›

Understand Federal Pell Grants. Federal Pell Grants are another source of financial aid to help you pay for college. Unlike loans, the money you get from Federal Pell Grants doesn't need to be paid back. Pell Grants are usually reserved for undergraduate students.

Is it better to complete FAFSA early? ›

You're more likely to qualify for federal, state, and college-offered grants if you file the FAFSA early. In fact, Saving for College reported that students who fill out the FAFSA between October and December get twice as many grants, on average, as compared with students who file the FAFSA later.

Do you have to pay back FAFSA? ›

You are generally required to repay your student loan, but in certain situations, your loan may be forgiven, canceled, or discharged.

What happens once you complete FAFSA? ›

Once your FAFSA form is processed, your Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) is sent to the colleges you listed on your FAFSA form. Those colleges are responsible for creating your award package and disbursing your financial aid.

Can I buy a car with FAFSA money? ›

You also can't pay for the purchase of a car with financial aid funds. In particular, a qualified education loan is used solely to pay for qualified higher education expenses, which are limited to the cost of attendance as determined by the college or university.

How do I know how much money I will get from FAFSA? ›

How do I view my SAR?
  1. Select “Log In” on the FAFSA home page.
  2. Enter your FSA ID.
  3. Select the student role on the “Roles” page.
  4. Select “View Student Aid Report (SAR)” from the “My FAFSA” page.

Who gets FAFSA money? ›

Our general eligibility requirements include that you have financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school.

What disqualifies you from FAFSA? ›

Other reasons for financial aid disqualification include: Not maintaining satisfactory progress at your college or degree program. Not filling out the FAFSA each year you are enrolled in school. Defaulting on a student loan.

Does anyone get denied FAFSA? ›

Not be in default on other student loans: For those who are in default on other student obligations, it's possible to be denied FAFSA help. Make sure you are up to date on all your federal student loan payments or have properly received deferment or forbearance.

What is the income limit for FAFSA 2023? ›

The FAFSA has no income limits, so you should fill this form out even if you think your family earns too much to qualify for federal aid.

What GPA does FAFSA require? ›

To be eligible for federal student aid and college financial aid, a student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This generally consists of maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (i.e., at least a C average) and passing enough classes with progress toward a degree.

How many credits do I need to qualify for FAFSA? ›

Credit values for financial aid eligibility are as follows: Full-time: 12–15 credits (you must obtain the approval of your academic preceptor if you enroll in 14 or fewer credits). Part-time: 6–11 credits (financial aid may be reduced).

Which FAFSA do i fill out for 2023 2024? ›

If you're applying for financial aid for the 2023–24 school year (typically July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024), you should file a 2023–24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Contact your school to verify what award year you should apply for, especially if you're attending school during the summer.

What is the hardest type of scholarship to get? ›

An athletic scholarship may cover some or all of your tuition costs, depending on the school. Athletic scholarships are some of the hardest to receive.

What is the most FAFSA pays? ›

Federal financial aid limits
Maximum amount (2022-23)
Direct Subsidized Loan$3,500 to $5,500 per year, depending on year in school
Direct Unsubsidized Loan$5,500 to $20,500 per year, depending on year in school and dependency status
Direct PLUS LoanTotal cost of attendance
Federal work-studyVaries by school
4 more rows
Feb 7, 2023

What is the best type of financial aid to accept? ›

Grants and scholarships are the most desirable forms of financial aid because they come in the form of free money, often with no strings attached.

Can I get FAFSA if my parents make a lot of money? ›

The good news is that the Department of Education doesn't have an official income cutoff to qualify for federal financial aid. So, even if you think your parents' income is too high, it's still worth applying (plus, it's free to apply).

What are the 3 types of federal student aid offered? ›

Types of Financial Aid: Loans, Grants, and Work-Study Programs.

What are the 3 types of federal student loans? ›

Types of federal student loans
  • Direct Subsidized Loans.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
  • Direct PLUS Loans, of which there are two types: Grad PLUS Loans for graduate and professional students, as well as loans that can be issued to a student's parents, also known as Parent PLUS Loans.

Can you get both FAFSA and Pell Grant? ›

You could qualify for both a Pell Grant and a Cal Grant. To apply for a Pell Grant, you must submit the FAFSA. For the Cal Grant, you must submit both the FAFSA OR CA Dream Act Application and your verified Cal Grant GPA by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline.

What is the highest income for Pell Grant? ›

Amounts can change yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2023–24 award year (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024). your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

Does FAFSA give Pell Grants? ›

To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA®) form.

What month is best for FAFSA? ›

You should submit your FAFSA form by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February.

Do you get less money the later you apply for FAFSA? ›

Missing deadlines takes you out of the running for money you could get. Some states and colleges continue to award aid to FAFSA latecomers, but your chances get much slimmer, and the payout is often lower. If you miss the end-of-June federal deadline, you're no longer eligible to submit that year's FAFSA form.

At what point is it not worth filling out FAFSA? ›

Who should not fill out the FAFSA? If there is no chance of you using any loans and your family has so much money that they can easily pay the full cost of your education, you may not want to spend time filling out the FAFSA.

What happens if I don't pay back FAFSA? ›

If you default on your student loan, that status will be reported to national credit reporting agencies. This reporting may damage your credit rating and future borrowing ability. Also, the government can collect on your loans by taking funds from your wages, tax refunds, and other government payments.

What happens if you get FAFSA money and don't go to school? ›

Does my aid "expire" if I don't use it? Yes, aid will be canceled if a student does not enroll in classes within the term or year that aid is offered. For loans to be reinstated students must request reinstatement of loans via askfas email or student can complete the request loan form.

Do parents have to pay back FAFSA? ›

If you're a dependent (or in some cases an independent), you must provide parental information to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. However, providing that information on the FAFSA form does not obligate your parent(s) to pay for your education.

How many times does FAFSA give you money? ›

Generally, your grant or loan will cover a full academic year and your school will pay out the money in at least two payments called disbursements. In most cases, the school must pay at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter).

How many times should you complete a FAFSA? ›

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form applies to a single academic year. That means you need to submit a FAFSA form each year—and make sure you meet the FAFSA deadlines for state and college aid to maximize the amount and types of aid you could receive.

How long does it typically take to complete the FAFSA? ›

Most people take less than an hour to complete and submit a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. This includes gathering any needed documents or data, completing and reviewing the application, and reading the important information on the "Confirmation" page.

Does FAFSA see your bank account? ›

Students selected for verification of their FAFSA form may wonder, “Does FAFSA check your bank accounts?” FAFSA does not directly view the student's or parent's bank accounts.

Can I use my FAFSA money for clothes? ›

Support includes money, housing, food, clothes, medical and dental care, gifts, loans, payment of college costs, etc.

Does FAFSA go on your credit? ›

Completing the FAFSA form doesn't affect your credit score.

How much financial aid will I get for 6 credits? ›

Pell Grant Example:
If You Attend:Amount Paid Will Be:
Full-time (12 or more credits):$3,448 or 100% of offer
Three-quarters time (9-11 credits):$2,586 or 75% of offer
Half-time (6-8 credits):$1,724 or 50% of offer
*Less than half-time (less than 6 credits):$862 or 25% of offer

Can FAFSA cover full tuition? ›

The financial aid awarded based on the FAFSA can be used to pay for the college's full cost of attendance, which includes tuition and fees. While it is possible for student financial aid to cover full tuition, in practice it will fall short.

Does FAFSA give grants to everyone? ›

Grant Eligibility

Most of our grants (listed above) are awarded only to students with financial need. If you are interested in our grants, or in any federal student aid, start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

Does everybody get money from FAFSA? ›

If I meet the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid, who decides how much money I'll get? Here's the short answer: Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending.

Can you use FAFSA for anything? ›

According to the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid, "All loan funds must be used for your education expenses." Education expenses include tuition and fees; books and supplies; and general living costs. Read: Take 4 Steps to Understand Student Loan Interest Rates.

Is FAFSA only for federal aid? ›

The FAFSA is the official form that students or their families use to apply for financial assistance for college from the federal government. States, individual colleges and universities, and private scholarship programs rely on the information provided in the application as well.

Does FAFSA give grants or scholarships? ›

Most of our grants (listed above) are awarded only to students with financial need. If you are interested in our grants, or in any federal student aid, start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

Can I buy a laptop with FAFSA money? ›

Federal Pell Grants can also be used to purchase laptops (in a roundabout way). These grants are paid directly to your school to cover tuition and fees, but if there's money left over you may be issued a refund check. This can then be used to purchase educational supplies such as a laptop.

Should I empty my bank account for FAFSA? ›

Empty Your Accounts

If you have college cash stashed in a checking or savings account in your name, get it out—immediately. For every dollar stored in an account held in a student's name (excluding 529 accounts), the government will subtract 50 cents from your financial aid package.

Is FAFSA a loan or free money? ›

This free application form is used to apply for federal student aid, as well as financial aid from state governments and most colleges and universities. FAFSA is not the financial aid itself, as it is just an application, so you do not have to pay anything back in that regard.

What credit score do you need for financial aid? ›

Federal: There are no minimum credit score requirements for federal student loans. Though there is a credit history check for federal PLUS loans. Private: A credit score of at least 670 is typically required, though specific requirements may vary from lender to lender.

What is the maximum income to qualify for FAFSA? ›

There are no income limits to apply. Many state and private colleges use the FAFSA to determine your financial aid eligibility, and you must submit a FAFSA every year to receive federal financial aid.

How much money can you get from FAFSA? ›

Federal financial aid limits
Maximum amount (2022-23)
Direct Subsidized Loan$3,500 to $5,500 per year, depending on year in school
Direct Unsubsidized Loan$5,500 to $20,500 per year, depending on year in school and dependency status
Direct PLUS LoanTotal cost of attendance
Federal work-studyVaries by school
4 more rows
Feb 7, 2023

Do I have to pay back FAFSA? ›

You are generally required to repay your student loan, but in certain situations, your loan may be forgiven, canceled, or discharged.

Do I have to pay back FAFSA if I drop out? ›

Because students that drop out of college are required to pay back any financial aid they have used to pay for their college education. So before dropping out, think twice about how much it will cost.

What is the difference between grants and FAFSA? ›

The first notable difference is that the FAFSA isn't a type of financial aid; instead, it's a general application for multiple federal aid programs. A Pell Grant, on the other hand, is a type of federal aid program that uses the FAFSA to determine if a student is eligible.


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