Financial Aid

The financial aid process can feel overwhelming. The good news is that help is available! DSA’s College Guidance Department has put together this Financial Aid page to help students and their families navigate this process. Please find the following information and resources on this page:

  1. Financial Aid Terminology
  2. Federal Aid
  3. Types of Aid
  4. Who Gets Aid
  5. Scholarships
  6. FAFSA: Apply for Aid
  7. General Tips and Tools
  8. Loan Repayment
  9. NASFAA Forms
  10. CAUTION!
  11. General Information



Students and families applying for financial aid are often overwhelmed by the terminology and heavy use of acronyms within financial aid forms and literature. Below are some acronyms, terms, and definitions:

  • FAFSA = Free Application For Student Aid
  • FSA = Federal Student Aid
  • EFC = Expected Family Contribution
  • FPL = Federal Perkins Loan Program
  • FSEOG = Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
  • FWS = Federal Work Study
  • PLUS = Parent Loans For Undergraduate Students
  • COA = Cost of Attendance
  • FFEL = Federal Family Education Loan
  • LEAP = Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership
  • SSIG = State Student Incentive Grant
  • CPS = Central Processing
  • SAR = Student Aid Report

Federal Pell Grants—a gift award that does not have to be repaid; ranges between $400 to $4,050 per year depending on need. Visit for more information.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)—additional gift to the especially needy to supplement the Pell Grant.

Federal Family Education Loan Program—offers loans by private lenders to students and/or parents who demonstrate financial need.

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan—loans up to $2,625 for first-year students. Interest paid by federal government, and repayment begins six months after student leaves school. Visit for more information.

Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan—available to those who do not demonstrate need. Borrower is responsible for all interest that accrues from date of disbursement.

Federal PLUS Loan—no-need parent loan with variable interest rate capped at 9%. Repayment must begin within 60 days of disbursement.

Federal Perkins Loan—need based, low-interest loan up to $3,000 awarded by the college at low interest rate to those with exceptional need.

College Work Study—federally-funded program that enables qualified students to work part-time on campus.

D.O.E. Scholarship Programs (subject to state legislation)—awards offered through state agencies based on academic merit rather than financial need.



Will you need a loan to attend college? If so, think federal aid first. Federal student loans usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment terms and options than private student loans.

Find the Federal Student Aid Loan Programs Fact Sheet here.



Financial aid is money to help pay for college or career school and can come from a variety of sources.

Find types of aid information here.

Each college website has a “net price calculator.” I would strongly encourage using it to get a picture of what you will be paying for tuition.



Different types of aid (e.g., private scholarships, state grants, federal loans, etc.) have different rules, called eligibility criteria, to determine who gets the aid.

Find aid eligibility information here.



There are four main sources for scholarships: federal, state, institutional, and local. An updated DSA Scholarship List is available in the College Center and provides deadlines, dollar amounts, and links to local scholarships.

Follow these links to find out more about these different kinds of scholarships and grants:

  • provides an online resource center and research library which presents websites related to planning for college, financial aid opportunities, and information about colleges and universities.
  • offers a host of information opportunities and resources for minority students, especially those interested in attending Historically Black colleges or universities.
  • provides scholarship information and resources for Hispanic students.
  • has scholarship information and resources for American Indian students.
  • FastWeb: offers a quick and easy way to find scholarships and your dream school.
  • College Express: is a great search engine for colleges, loans and scholarships.
  • Stafford Loan Resource Center: provides information on federal loans and financial aid online applications.
  • Colleges, College Scholarships, and Financial Aid page: offers college-bound students free scholarship and college searches, as well as information on the SAT and ACT.
  • The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid: offers a comprehensive listing of financial aid opportunities, including information on ROTC programs.
  • The Princeton Review: provides online applications and services to improve your SAT score.
  • provides free college scholarship searches and financial aid resources.
  • Finding Scholarships
  • This website is free and allows you to fill out your FAFSA through prompts and finds scholarships that fit your profile.


FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.

Find FAFSA information here.





Understanding the repayment process for your federal student loans can go a long way toward building a solid financial foundation.

Find repayment process information here.

The Simple Dollar’s Student Loan Consolidation Guide is quite helpful along with the many other tips offered on its site.



Be wary of companies that claim millions of dollars in scholarship money go unused or charge a fee for doing a college scholarship search. To lure you in, they may provide the names and addresses of dozens of sources, but often what you get is nothing more than what is available for free on the Internet. Stay away of such companies that:

  • make statements or promises of guaranteed winnings (“This scholarship is guaranteed or your money back!”)
  • suggest or claim that everyone is eligible
  • pressure you to respond quickly to their offer (“You must agree to terms now or scholarship will be withdrawn.”)
  • request unusual personal/financial information (“May I have your credit card number or bank account number to hold this scholarship?”)
  • require a high application fee (“This scholarship will cost you some money.”)
  • have typing and spelling errors in their brochure or application
  • mention special consideration (“You’ve been selected by a ‘national foundation’ to receive a scholarship,” or “You’re a finalist in a contest,” that you didn’t enter)

Beware – do not pay money to get money!

National Fraud Information Center (877) 382-4357