Financial Aid as a High School Student: What You Need to Know

Thinking about how to pay for college may seem overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a financial aid checklist to help students create a plan to get started. Follow the steps below to learn about different student financial aid options and find out what your student may be eligible to receive: 

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®): The FAFSA® is a form that collects information about your family’s income and assets, as well as your own academic and personal information. It’s used to determine your student’s eligibility for federal financial aid programs such as grants, loans, and work-study programs.  
  • Apply for state financial aid programs: Many states offer financial aid programs for college-bound students, which may include loans, grants, scholarships, and loan forgiveness. Check with your state’s higher education agency for more information.  
  • Research and apply for scholarships: Scholarships are gifts that do not need to be repaid and can help supplement your financial aid package. There are many scholarships offered by a wide range of institutions and individuals that you can apply for. Start looking for scholarship opportunities by asking your student’s high school guidance counselor for help or using an online scholarship search engine.  
  • Contact your college’s financial aid office: Once you have been accepted to a college, you should contact the financial aid office to discuss your student’s plan for paying for school. A financial aid officer can answer your questions on cost and payment, as well as provide helpful resources and information on institutional, federal, and state financial assistance options. 
  • Review and accept your financial aid award package: Once you have completed the FAFSA® and applied for other financial aid, you will receive a financial aid award package from your college. This package will outline the types and amounts of financial aid your student is eligible to receive. Your student will need to review and accept the package before the funds can be disbursed.  

Remember, a college education is a worthwhile investment in your student’s future and career. And with so many financial assistance programs available for students, there are options that can help them pay for college. Most financial aid programs have deadlines, so get started researching today! 

For more resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.

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