Financial aid programs help many students pursue different courses of study. If you are seeking a degree or a certificate and are considering part- or full-time attendance, check with your college or school to find out what financial aid may be available to you. Aid isn’t limited only to “traditional" students just out of high school.
Financial aid is assistance provided to students and families to supplement what they themselves are able to contribute to cover the cost of higher education. It can cover tuition and fees, housing and food, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses including child care. These items make up what is sometimes called a “college budget."
Most financial aid is based on need. Need is determined by subtracting the family or student’s resources available for education from the college budget.
If you are a Vermont resident and enrolling (or are enrolled) in a non-degree/non-matriculated program read more about the Vermont non-degree grant.
Budget – Resources = Need
Three types of financial aid are available:
- Grants and scholarships (also known as “gift" aid). These do not have to be repaid. Scholarships may be based on need or on a student’s academic performance or special talents.
- Loans (also known as “self-help" aid). Students and/or parents borrow low-interest loans that must be repaid.
- Work-Study (another form of “self-help" aid). Students earn wages that may be applied to the college bill or used for personal expenses.
Financial aid comes from different sources:
- The federal government
- State agencies such as VSAC
- The college a student is attending
- Outside sources
To apply for federal financial aid, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. To apply for a Vermont state grant from VSAC, you must be a Vermont resident, having resided in Vermont for at least 12 months prior to your enrollment. College aid is obtained from the college, while scholarships from outside sources usually require separate applications and often have specific eligibility requirements. In all cases, to receive aid you must be admitted to an approved postsecondary school.
Financial aid application materials for Vermont students are available from VSAC, from all Vermont colleges and high schools, and from some public libraries.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - This application is used as a basis for determining eligibility for federal Pell Grants, for part-time and full-time Vermont grants administered by VSAC, aid from the college you are attending, and student loans. Students can complete a traditional paper FAFSA application, or file electronically on the Web. Students continuing their education receive a “Renewal FAFSA" in subsequent years.
- Vermont grant application - This application must be completed by Vermont residents who wish to be considered for a state grant and are pursuing a degree on a full-time or part-time basis. Students can file electronically or request a paper application from VSAC.
- Institutional application - Some colleges require an additional application form. The school’s catalog or Web site will indicate if this is required.
- CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® - Certain colleges and universities also require this application, which provides them with additional information for assessing a student or family’s financial situation. This application is provided and processed by The College Board and involves a fee. You can complete the application online.
- Financial aid transcript - If you attended colle and received financial aid, you will be asked by your financial aid office to complete this form.
- It is very important to apply for financial aid on time in order to meet all the deadlines set by the relevant agencies and colleges. Consult a financial aid counselor at the school you plan to attend or a VSAC counselor for help. College catalogs, Web sites and guidebooks generally list the various deadlines.
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