Financial Fundamentals

Financing a post-secondary education may seem overwhelming. High schools are filled with information to help! It's essential to take advantage of the help available early. Financial Aid Nights, booklets, information sessions, and websites are available through Career/Counseling Centers. The more you know about the wide variety of programs the less overwhelmed you'll be later when trying to choose the best fit for your career path with the best financial option to get it paid for.



Financial Aid is financial help available to students enrolled in eligible programs at participating schools to cover school expenses, including: tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation. Some aid is need-based and some is non-need based. Need-based aid is provided in the form of grants (which are gifts), loans (need to be repaid), work-study and scholarships. Non-need based aid is provided in the form of scholarships and loans.
Most likely college will be paid for with a combination of the following:

  • STUDENT AND PARENT CONTRIBUTIONS: Savings, monthly checks, etc.
  • GRANTS: Called "gift aid", because they don't have to be repaid. Grants are often based on need and come from both the State and Federal government, and from the college institutions.
  • SCHOLARSHIPS: Also "gift aid." Scholarships may be based on need, special talent, academic achievement, intended major, community service – institutional, local, and national sources.
  • LOANS: Must be repaid by the student and/or parent. Low interest rates. Repayment usually does not begin until 6 months after graduation, or the student leaves college, with several years to repay the loan.
  • WORK STUDY: Students may work on campus a specific number of hours, usually in areas related to their program of study. Students may also work off-campus. Students are only paid for hours worked.


  • High School Career Center/Counseling Office: Scholarship information is updated regularly throughout the year and includes information about eligibility criteria, due dates, award amounts, etc. Students are encouraged to continue to check such information regularly.
  • Colleges: College Financial Aid Offices usually have a collection of scholarships on their websites.
    Note: Because the scholarships available from colleges are often large dollar amounts, we STRONGLY encourage students to seek scholarship information from the colleges to which they're applying. Often the application for scholarships is different from the application for admissions. It is up to the student to find out scholarship information from the college web pages. Remember to check specific departments in college (e.g., music department, biology, etc.).
  • Online: Access your high school's career and educational planning web-based program. Check with your career center or counseling office for web address and access codes. –free site –Hispanic Scholarship Fund website


  • Read the directions! Follow them exactly!
  • Apply only if you're eligible!
  • Make sure your essay makes an impression.
  • Watch out for deadlines! Some applications list the deadline date as the date it must be postmarked, while others list it as the date that it must be sitting on their desk.
  • Make copies before sending.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • Remember—your scholarship application represents you!
  • Double-check that required attachments are included, before mailing the application.
  • Is the overall appearance acceptable, neat and professional? Ask someone to proof read your application.
  • Mail it at the Post Office, not your home mailbox to be sure you meet deadlines!