Financial Aid

State Financial Aid Information

Find state financial aid information for the specific state that you live in. Find contact information for your local federal aid office, and get details about specific federal aid programs in your area.

Federal Financial Aid Information

Federal Work Study (FWS) Program

Under the FWS Program students can work part-time to earn money to pay for educational expenses.  The FWS program provides jobs for students demonstrating financial need.  The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.

The FWS Program:

  • Provides part-time employment for students while they are enrolled in school;
  • Helps pay a student’s educational expenses
  • Is available to both undergraduate and graduate students;
  • Is administered by schools that participate in the FWS Program
  • Encourages community service work and work related to a student’s course of study, whenever possible.

Are FWS jobs on or off Campus?

FWS jobs can be both on and off campus.  If you work on campus, you’ll usually work for your school.  If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a private non-profit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest.

Some schools might have agreements with private for-profit employers for FWS jobs.  These jobs must be relevant to your course of study (to the maximum extend possible).  If you attend a “for-profit” school there may be further restrictions on the types of jobs you can be assigned.

How Much Can a Student Earn?

You will earn at least the current federal minimum wage.  However, the amount might be higher depending on the type of work done and the skills required for the position.

The amount that can be earned can’t exceed a student’s total FWS award.  When assigning work hours, employers and financial aid administrators take into consideration a student’s class schedule and academic progress.

The total FWS award depends on:

  • When you apply,
  • Your level of financial need, and
  • Your school’s funding level (when all of a school’s funds have been awarded no additional work-study awards can be made for that year).

How are Students Paid?

Undergraduate students are paid by the hour.  Graduate students are paid either by the hour or by a salary, depending on the work that is done.  Schools must pay students at least once a month.  Schools must pay students directly unless the student requests that payments are to be sent directly to a bank account or the student requests that the money be applied to pay for school related educational expenses such as tuition, fees and room and board.

Federal Grants

There are four types of federal student aid grants:
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
  • National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)

Unlike loans, grants are not repaid unless, for example, you are awarded funds incorrectly or you withdraw from school prior to the planned end of the term.  All federal grants are awarded to students with financial need.  The amount of money you can get from a Pell Grant depends on your cost of attendance, expected family contribution, enrollment status (full or part-time) and whether you will attend for a full academic year or less.  To obtain a FSEOG, ACG or National SMART Grant you must be eligible and receive a Federal Pell Grant.  The amount of your FSEOG, ACG and National SMART Grant depends on your financial need.

For the most up to date information on federal grant programs visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website at

Federal Pell Grants

Pell Grants are generally awarded only to undergraduate students.  In some limed cases a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program can also obtain a Pell Grant.  The amount of a Pell Grant can change every year.  The maximum award for the 2007-08 school year was $4,310.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need – those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution numbers.  FSEOG awards range from $100 to $4,000 per year.  The actual amount of the award is determined by each participating school’s financial aid office.

Unlike Pell Grants, the amount of FSEOGs a student can obtain depends not only on financial need but also on the amount of other aid a person gets and the availability of funds at each school.  Not all schools participate in the FSEOG Program.  Due to limited funds it is important to apply early to be considered for an FSEOG award.  Not everyone who qualifies for an FSEOG might get one.

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

The ACG program began in the 2006-07 school year for full-time undergraduate students.  The maximum award for a first year eligible undergraduate student is $750; the maximum award for a second year eligible undergraduate students is $1,300.

To receive an ACG, a student must:

  • Receive a Federal Pell Grant during the same award year
  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be a first – or second-year full-time undergraduate student in a degree program at a two-year or four-year degree granting institution.
  • Have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study, and
  • If a first-year student – have completed secondary school after Jan. 1, 2006 or
  • If a second-year student – have completed secondary school after Jan. 1, 2005, and have at least a 3.0 grade point average as of the end of the first academic year of undergraduate study.

National SMART Grants

The National SMART Grant program is for full-time undergraduate students who are enrolled in the third or fourth academic year of undergraduate study.  The award is for up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth academic years.

To obtain a National SMART Grant, a student must:

  • Receive a Federal Pell Grant during the same award year;
  • Be a U.S. Citizen;
  • Be a full-time student in his or her third or fourth academic year of an undergraduate degree program;
  • Be pursuing a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, or a critical foreign language, and
  • Have at least a 3.0 grade point average as of the end of the second award year and continue to maintain a 3.0 GPA that must be checked prior to the beginning of each semester or term.

Federal Student Loans

Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student's education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) rather than a bank or other financial institution.
With Direct Loans, you

  • Borrow directly from the federal government and have a single contact-the Direct Loan Servicing Center-for everything related to the repayment of your loans, even if you receive Direct Loans at different schools;
  • Have online access to your Direct Loan account information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Direct Loans on the Web at:
  • Can choose from several repayment plans that are designed to meet the needs of almost any borrower, and you can switch repayment plans if your needs change.

Types of Direct Loans

The following Direct Loans are made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education:

Direct Subsidized Loans

Are for students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations. No interest is charged while a student is in school at least half-time, during the grace period and during deferment periods.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Are not based on financial need; interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods.

Direct PLUS Loans

Are unsubsidized loans for the parents of dependent students and for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods.

Direct Consolidation Loans

Eligible federal student loans can be combined into one Direct Consolidation Loan.

Parent eligibility requirements for a Direct PLUS Loan

You must be the student's biological or adoptive parent or the student's stepparent, if the biological or adoptive parent has remarried at the time of application. You must be a dependent student who is enrolled at least half-time at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. For financial aid purposes, a student is considered "dependent" if he or she is under 24, unmarried, and has no legal dependents at the time the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is submitted. (Exceptions are made for veterans, wards of court, and other special circumstances.) If a student is considered dependent, then the income and the assets of the parent have to be reported on the FAFSA.

Additional requirements to receive a PLUS loan

Parent PLUS loan borrowers cannot have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done). In addition, parents and their dependent child must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, must not be in default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and must meet other general eligibility requirements for the Federal Student Aid programs. You can find more information about these requirements in Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid available at:

Applying for a PLUS Loan and the Master Promissory Note (MPN)

To take out a Direct Loan for the first time, you must complete a PLUS Application and master promissory note (MPN). The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the Department. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s). The MPN will be provided either by your school or the Department.
If your school offers the option of completing the MPN electronically, you can do so online at the Direct Loans e-MPN website. If you are borrowing Direct PLUS Loans for more than one student, you'll need to complete a separate MPN for each one. To complete an MPN online, you will be required to use your Department of Education-issued PIN. If you do not have a PIN, you may request one from the official PIN site.

In most cases, once you've submitted the MPN and it's been accepted, you won't have to fill out a new MPN for future loans you receive to pay for the educational expenses of the same student. Unless your school does not allow more than one loan to be made under the same MPN, you can borrow additional Direct Loans on a single MPN for up to 10 years.
You'll receive a disclosure statement that gives you specific information about any loan that the school plans to disburse under your MPN, including the loan amount and loan fees, and the expected loan disbursement dates and amounts.

Credit check & endorser alternative

When you apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, the Department will check your credit history. To be eligible for a PLUS Loan, you must not have an adverse credit history. If you are found to have an adverse credit history, you may still borrow a PLUS Loan if you get an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if you do not repay the loan. The endorser may not be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a Direct PLUS Loan. In some cases, you may also be able to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan if you document to our satisfaction that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

Loan limits, interest rate, and loan charges

There are no set limits for Direct PLUS Loans, but you may not borrow more than the cost of your education minus any other financial aid received, such as a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan. The school will determine the actual amount you may borrow.

The interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans is a fixed rate of 7.9%. Interest is charged on Direct PLUS Loans during all periods, beginning on the date of your loan's first disbursement. To find out more information on interest rates for Direct PLUS Loans, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center.

In addition to interest, you pay a loan origination fee that is a percentage of the principal amount of each Direct PLUS Loan that you receive. This fee helps reduce the cost of making these low-interest loans. The fee is deducted before you receive any loan money, so the loan amount you actually receive will be less than the amount you have to repay.

Dependent students whose parents have applied for but were unable to get a PLUS Loan are eligible to receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds.

How a loan is disbursed (paid out)

Generally, your loan will cover a full academic year and your school will make at least two disbursements to you, for example, at the beginning of each semester or quarter or at the beginning and midpoint of your academic year.

In most cases your school will disburse your loan money by crediting it to your school account to pay tuition, fees, room, board, and other authorized charges. If the loan disbursement amount exceeds your school charges, the school will pay you the remaining balance of the disbursement directly by check or other means. In some cases, with your permission, the school may disburse some of the PLUS loan money directly to the student. Your school will notify you in writing each time they disburse part of your loan money and will provide information about how to cancel all or part of your disbursement if you find you no longer need the money. You will also receive a notice from us confirming the disbursement. You should read and keep all correspondence received concerning your loan.

Using the loan for education expenses: You may use the loan money you receive only to pay for your education expenses at the school that is giving you the loan. Education expenses include school charges such as tuition, room and board, fees, and indirect expenses such as books, supplies, equipment, dependent child care expenses, transportation, and rental or purchase of a personal computer.

Federal Perkins Loans

A Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest (5 percent) loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Federal Perkins Loans are made through a school's financial aid office. Your school is your lender, and the loan is made with government funds. You must repay this loan to your school.

Your school will either pay you directly (usually by check) or apply your loan to your school charges. You'll receive the loan in at least two payments during the academic year.

How much can I borrow?

You can borrow up to $5,500 for each year of undergraduate study (the total you can borrow as an undergraduate is $27,500). For graduate studies, you can borrow up to $8,000 per year (the total you can borrow as a graduate is $60,000 which includes amounts borrowed as an undergraduate). The amount you receive depends on when you apply, your financial need, and the funding level at the school.

Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?

No, there are no other charges. However, if you skip a payment, if it's late, or if you make less than a full payment, you might have to pay a late charge plus any collection costs.

When do I pay it back?

If you're attending school at least half time, you have nine months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status before you must begin repayment. This is called "grace period." If you're attending less than half time, check with your college or career school to find out how long your grace period will be