Understanding Financial Aid

Did you know the U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion in aid to more than 15 million students?

Financial Aid is money to help pay for college or a career school and helps pay for expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.  Students and their families sometimes mistakenly think that they won’t qualify for financial aid and prevent themselves from receiving aid by failing to apply.  There are a variety of programs in which students may qualify.  The following sections will tell you what programs are available and explain the different types of aid offered.

U.S. Federal Government

The federal government has many financial aid programs.  Besides federal student aid you might get:

  • Aid for military service or being a spouse or child of a veteran
  • Educational tax benefits
  •  An education award for community service with AmeriCorps
  • Education and training vouchers for foster care youths, and others.

The funding you may receive in federal student aid includes: Grants, Loans, and Work-Study.  For more information visit studentaid.ed.gov.

State Where you Live

States offer different aid programs.  The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE) currently offers two programs:

  • Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (AzLEAP)
  • Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program (ATSLP).

For more information visit Arizona Grants.

Institution you Attend

Colleges offer their own institutional aid to students, so speak with the financial aid office at the college to learn what institutional aid is offered by the college.  If you have already selected a major, speak with your department as there might be scholarship or grant opportunities available that are administered by the department.  Additionally, colleges will often have a scholarship database that students can search through on the financial aid/scholarship website.

Non-Profit/Private Organizations

Many organizations give scholarships and grants. For more information visit Arizona Grants's Scholarship Resources page.

Types of Financial Aid

Grants and Scholarships

Free money which usually does not have to be repaid. Occasionally some grants may have to be paid back, for example, if you withdraw and have not completed the enrollment period. For more information visit Arizona Grant's Scholarship Resources page.


Provides part-time work while enrolled which helps pay your expenses.  Work-study programs are administered through the college so check with your financial aid department to see if the college participates in the program.

Tax Benefits

The IRS provides tax benefits like the American Opportunity Credit and the Life Time Learning Credit.  For further information read IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

      Why Form 1098-T is important to you?