Let's Talk Financial Aid

Colleges and universities use financial aid packages and scholarships as a way to keep costs affordable for families. 

Financial Aid is a federal program that allows colleges to determine if a family qualifies for state or federal assistance.  Not all families are eligible for assistance, however you may still need to complete the process for graduation requirements or even scholarships. 


Financial Aid can be in the form of grants, loans or work-study programs. 


Students start this process by completing the

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) 

This application becomes available every October 1st for high school seniors.  Check out the video below before you start the FAFSA! 

Calculate Savings

Things to know before getting started: 

  • Until the age of 24, students must use their parent/guardian's tax information to apply for financial aid.  (Special circumstances may apply).

  • Students submit FAFSA every year they attend college. 

  • FAFSA does not guarantee admission to a college. 

  • Sending FAFSA to a school does not mean your student has to attend that school.  You can send FAFSA to several schools. 

  •  Students and at least 1 parent/guardian must create an FSA ID using separate emails and phone numbers. 

  • The FSA ID serves as the official signature to submit the FAFSA.  

  • Be sure to have prior year tax documents available


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Once FAFSA is complete, students and parent/guardians will be prompted to enter in their FSA ID for official submission. 

Students will receive an EFC number (Expected Family Contribution).  This number is used by colleges and is not a direct indicator of eligibility. 

December-April, colleges listed on the student FAFSA will send Award Packages outlining assistance the student qualified for. See example below. 

Every college does this differently, be sure to ask how award information will be communicated.  Award packages help families understand the real cost of attending that school after financial aid has been calculated.  

Compare the Estimated Cost of Tuition with the Expected Net Cost after grants, loans and scholarships have been appli

Fore more resources visit

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sample award.png

Many schools package student loans together while others may not.  Make sure you follow up with the Financial Aid Office at your desired school.  

Your local high school may have a representative that can help with FAFSA.  Stop by the Counselors Office in your high school. 

Illinois schools: 

Iowa Schools: