Financial aid is money provided to students to pay for college. It includes “free” money that you don’t have to pay back, like grants, as well as aid you do have to repay, like student loans. Financial aid can be used to cover a variety education expenses, such as:
While state governments, colleges and private organizations all provide financial aid to students, when people refer to financial aid, they are usually talking about programs sponsored by the U.S. government. Learn about:
There are three types of federal student aid: grants, student loans and work-study assistance. Here is an overview of each.
Unlike grants, federal student loans are borrowed money that must be repaid. Federal loans should be considered before private student loans because they may have several advantages such as:
The federal government, through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, has several primary student loan programs for students of varying degrees of need:
Grants are "free" money, or "gift aid," that doesn't have to be repaid. Federal student grant amounts may change from year to year, but recently, the grant awards have ranged between $3,000 and $6,000 — which means federal grants alone won't typically cover the full cost of college. Currently, there are several federal student grant programs; learn more about federal grants.
The Federal Work-Study program allows students with financial need to work at part-time jobs to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program emphasizes community service work or work related to the student’s field of study.
Federal Work-Study at a glance:
To qualify for federal financial aid, you'll need to complete the federal financial aid application process.
|When||Action Item||What To Do/Expect|
Senior Year (Early Fall)
Senior Year (October)
|Fill out the FAFSA||
Senior Year (Fall)
|Note admissions and financial aid deadlines||
Senior Year (Spring)
|Receive school application decisions
Receive your financial aid Award Letters
Select your school
Respond to your Award Letters
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. View and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans.
Union Federal is a federally registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Start Student Loan is a trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Both are used by SunTrust Bank under license. SunTrust Bank is the lender of these private student loans and they are not offered in connection with any other lender or the federal government. Cognition Financial Corporation is not an affiliate of SunTrust Bank.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue these programs without notice. These loan programs are subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
©2010 fafsa.gov. All rights reserved. FAFSA is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Education.
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* Offer valid for new Custom Choice Loans for which applications are submitted for a credit decision between 12:00:00am EST on June 1, 2019 and 11:59:59pm EST on August 31, 2019. A 0.50% interest rate reduction will be included in the loan options presented to an applicant during the online application process, upon passing the initial credit review. The interest rate reduction will be applied as of the first disbursement date and will be effective for the life of the loan.
To be eligible for some types of federal financial aid, a student must demonstrate need. However, there are certain eligibility requirements a student must meet:
SunTrust explains how you can save money on college by making the most of financial aid.
Graduating with student loan debt? Here are some tips to help you manage the process.
It's crucial to discuss personal finance with college-bound kids.
This tool helps you to budget for living expenses for one year of college.
Determine the future cost of tuition based on the inflation rate you input.
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