Students generally categorize college financial aid into two types: the “good kind” and the “bad kind.”
The good type of financial aid being grants and scholarships–essentially free money.
The bad type being student loans, which are factored into the financial aid award letters students receive before the start of the college school year.
In order to qualify for the federal grants and loans, student need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA.
State vs Federal Options
Students can get grants and scholarships from the state and federal governments, as well as from private donors or organizations.
Here are some of the federal options.
The Pell Grant is a need-based federal grant which has a maximum award of $5,500–2,750 for the fall semester and $2,750 for the spring semester. Starting in the summer of 2012, there is no longer a summer Pell Grant.
Students can also take out federal a subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loan and a subsidized federal Perkins loan, as well as private loans.
Subsidized means students will not incur interest until a couple months after he or she graduates from college.
In Florida, students can also receive a merit-based Bright Futures Scholarship if they earn high grades in high school and maintain high grades in college.