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Financial Aid FAQ

Q: What are the different types of money for college?

  • Money you don’t pay back
    • Grants
    • Scholarships
  • Aid you must repay
    • Federal Perkins Loan
    • Federal Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
    • Federal Health Professions Programs
    • Minnesota Student Educational Loan Fund (SELF)
    • Alternative Loans
  • Aid you earn
    • Military
    • Work Study
  • Community service
  • Reciprocity
    • An agreement between states to reduce cost of tuition.
    • Minnesota has reciprocity agreements with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Q: What the heck is a FAFSA?!

  • The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the form that the federal government uses to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. This aid includes grants, scholarships, work-study and loans to help you pay for college. The form collects financial and demographic information.

Q: Where can I get a FAFSA form?

  • Complete FAFSA on the Web: or get a paper version from your high school counselor, local library, or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Q: How does it work?

  • Using your FAFSA, the federal processor determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 
  • Your EFC is the amount of money your family can be expected to contribute each year to your college costs. Your school will then try to meet your need through a financial aid award made up of funds from federal, state, school and private sources as well as loans, grants and student employment.

Q: How do I find out how much financial aid I will be receiving?

After you file the FAFSA, complete with your family's tax information from the previous year, you will receive a certificate of award that states how much aid, as well as what types, you are eligible to receive. You can accept or deny up to the amount you are awarded.

Q: What questions should I ask about financial aid when I visit colleges?

What is the cost of attendance?
This is different from the cost of tuition. Cost of attendance includes the cost of room and board, as well as books, printing, internet, etc.

Does the college offer scholarships?
Many colleges offer private scholarships that are only available to the student who attend that college. Typically, these scholarships are available on the college's web site under the financial aid link.

Do you offer part-time job assistance?
Many colleges offer work-study positions for their students to earn money toward their education while they are working on campus.

Other Financial Aid Resources: