Financial Aid

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You are probably aware that college can be expensive. You may also be aware that there are scholarships, grants, and loans available to help you pay for it. Below, I'll give you an overview of the process of paying for college, and define some of the terms you'll see often in the future.

Say you want to attend a university that costs $45,000 per year. After completing your FAFSA, you find that your expected family contribution, the amount you are expected to pay, is $2,000 per year. Your university will offer you a financial aid package that will cover the difference, known as your financial need. The math works like this:

$45,000   Cost of attendance
- $2,000   Expected family contribution
$43,000   Financial need

So, the financial aid package you receive from the university will help you cover $43,000 per year. The package will likely contain the following:

Type of Aid Lender Paid Back?
Scholarships University Nope!
Grants Gov't/University Nope!
Loans Government Yes!

If you're reading closely, you might notice that loans are part of the financial aid package. Unlike scholarships and grants, you must repay any loans. Why are these included in your financial aid package? Good question. Some universities, like the University of Chicago[1] do not include loans in your financial aid package. It is very important that you read your package closely when you receive it, and recognize that you are not required to accept all of it.

The OKcollegestart website is a great place to research this process further.