5 Major Types of College Financial Aid

The federal student aid program from the Department of Education covers a variety of expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

In addition to helping with the costs of education and childcare, aid can also help with the costs of other related expenses. The federal student aid programs are available to thousands of schools throughout the country; ask the schools you are interested in if they participate.

Using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, you can apply for grants, work-study loans, and other types of federal student aid.

You can estimate your eligibility for federal student aid and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with our Federal Student Aid Estimator. Be sure to use the tool before you fill out the FAFSA form.

There are several financial aid sources available to you to assist you with the cost of going to college or vocational school, including federal, state, school, and personal sources. Here are the five major types of college financial aid.


A grant is a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid, unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund, or in some cases you don’t complete your service obligation.

A variety of federal grants are available, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.


Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college or career school.

This type of free money, which is sometimes based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study, can make a real difference in helping you manage your education expenses.

Work-study jobs

The Federal Work-Study Program allows you to earn money to pay for school by working part-time. These are commonly jobs around campus, like food service or working in the library.


When you receive a student loan, you are borrowing money to attend a college or career school. You must repay the loan as well as the interest that accrues.

It is important to understand your repayment options so you can successfully repay your loan.

Aid for military families

There are special aid programs or additional aid eligibility for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran.