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1. The Basics

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is money that's used to pay educational costs. Sources of financial aid include the federal government, state government, colleges and universities, community groups, including religious and civic organizations, professional associations and corporations.

Four Major Types of Financial Aid


Aid that's often based on financial need and doesn't usually have to be repaid.


Provides students the eligibility to find a part-time job during the school year as part of their financial aid package. The jobs are often located on campus.


Offered at low interest rates, some are based on financial need and some aren't. All loans must be paid back, along with any additional interest.


Financial awards given for a variety of reasons, such as good grades, special talents or career plans. Scholarships don't have to be repaid.

Additional benefits may exist to help you pay for college. These benefits include:

23-24 AYLM Cover KEEP
24-25 State Aid Chart

Learn more about each type of aid in Are You Looking for Money? and the State Aid Programs chart.

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.