Financial Aid Basics

Financial aid is available to help families pay for college. Every student should apply for financial aid, regardless of income. You won’t know what financial you may be eligible for unless you apply.

Students begin the financial aid process by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

All federal financial aid programs (including loan programs) and many scholarship programs require the FAFSA to be completed to determine eligibility for specific types of financial aid. Learn more about eligibility for federal financial aid programs at studentaid.gov.

There are four basic types of financial aid: grants, scholarships, work-study and loans.

  1. Grants are aid that you are given by the federal government, your college or another institution that you will not need to repay. Grants are typically need-based aid (awarded based on a student’s financial need).
    1. Federal Pell Grant a need-based grant available to undergraduate students. The amount of the grant is based on the information provided on the FAFSA.
    2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant – a need-based grant available at some colleges.
    3. State of Maine Grant – a need-based grant for Maine undergraduate students attending schools in Maine (or through NEBHE).
    4. Institutional/College grants vary by college. To learn more about grants your school may offer, contact the financial aid office.
  2. Scholarships are aid that you are given, sometimes from your college or community organizations, that you will not need to repay. Scholarships are typically merit-based (based on a student’s academic, athletic or other achievements, not financial need). Visit FAME’s scholarship search page for Maine-based scholarships.
  3. Work-Study is aid granted through the federal government or your college, and provides an opportunity for you to work part-time on or off campus.
  4. Loans are aid that you borrow from the federal government or a private lender, which you will need to repay. Learn more about Federal Loans.