Federal Student Aid at a Glance

WHAT is federal student aid? 

Federal student aid comes from the federal government— specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It’s money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses (i.e., college, career school, or graduate school expenses). Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study, and loans. 

(A) Grants – Money that you don’t have to pay back. Grants are normally based on financial need.

(B) Work-Study – Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. A student must have extreme financial need; these are administered on a school by school basis.

(C) Government Loans – The federal government disburses these loans, and nearly every student with a high school diploma is eligible to receive them. They come in subsidized and unsubsidized.