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Financial aid is money to help pay for college,  graduate school, and professional school and is available from a variety of sources.   Aid can come from the U.S. federal government, the state where you live, the college you attend, or a nonprofit or private organization.


Glossary of Financial Aid Terms


Federal Student Aid

Financial aid from the federal government to help pay for education expenses at an eligible college. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA to apply for this aid.


Money awarded based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses.  Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid.


Financial aid, often based on financial need, that does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund).


A federal student financial aid program that provides part-time employment while enrolled in school to help pay education expenses.

Federal Student Loans

A loan funded by the federal government to help pay for education. A federal student loan is borrowed money that must repaid with interest.

Private Loans

Non-federal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or school that must be repaid with interest (which is usually at a higher interest rate than the federal loans).


A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.

Room and Board

An allowance for the cost of housing and food while attending college.

Financial Aid Office

The office at a college that is responsible for preparing and communicating information on financial aid. This office helps students apply for and receive student loans, grants, scholarships and other types of financial aid.


For additional terms and a very comprehensive glossary, see The Federal Student Aid Glossary.


Links for Financial Aid Resources


Here are some helpful resources on preparing for college, applying for aid, consumer protection, and more.



Expected Family Contribution Methodology Calculators


Grants, Scholarships and Loans

ABLE United

Floridians with disabilities can use an ABLE United account as a tax-free way to save money while continuing to maintain benefits.


Federal Student Aid for Counselors

Online source of federal student aid information to help students and parents plan and prepare for college and career/trade schools including information on eligibility, FAFSA, deadlines, calculators, promotional materials and more.

Federal Financial Aid for Students with Intellectual Disability

This policy brief provides clear information about how student federal financial aid can be accessed for college programs designed for students with intellectual disability

Financial Aid information for Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary programs (CTP)

Explains how students with disabilities may be able to qualify for federal funding through CTP programs and include lists of eligible schools by state.

Florida Office of Student Financial Assistance

Florida Department of Education Website containing information on student loans, state grants and scholarships, online applications, definitions of financial aid terms, answers to questions frequently asked by students and teachers and detailed instructions on applying for aid. A toll-free telephone number and e-mail address are provided for questions. Also has information on financial aid available to veterans. Information for teachers and postsecondary institutions is password protected.


My Money

The Department of Financial Services created the My Money Program to provide educational lessons for individuals with developmental disabilities and important resources for family members and caregivers. The My Money Program allows individuals to learn and practice financial skills at their own pace, using interactive games, activities and educational videos. Lessons focus on money basics, banks and credit unions, accounts, budgeting, government benefit programs and ways to find and keep employment.

Paying For College, ThinkCollege!

This section of the ThinkCollege! website provides information on a number of options that students with disabilities are using to pay for college, including financial aid, scholarships, tuition waivers and resource mapping, among others.

Student Aid on the Web

U.S. Department of Education Website containing information on applying to postsecondary schools, college, applying for federal financial aid, repaying loans and setting up a password-protected personal account containing applications, college information, financial aid information and more. Print and online versions of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are also available. Additional resources include financial calculators, scholarship searches, audio and video informational programs and links to additional federal aid programs such as Gear Up and TRIO in each state.


More Links

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Room & Board Scholarships


College Greenlight

Florida's College Access Network (FCAN)

Florida’s Office of Student Financial Aid (OFSA)

The Dream

The University of Miami

Immigrants Rising

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