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Financial Aid 101

Applying for financial aid can appear to be difficult or even daunting. This article will introduce you to the types of financial aid, the application process, and resources to walk you through this process and ultimately make application for financial aid a smoother and less challenging time.

Financial Aid Information

Financial aid is money to help pay for college or career school. Financial aid helps students, and their families pay for a post-secondary education. It can cover a range of educational expenses, like tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. 
There are four types of federal student aid: grants, scholarships, work study, and education loans. 

1: Grants

Grants are a form of financial aid, often based on need, which you do not have to repay. Grants are generally awarded by federal and state governments, academic institutions, and organizations. 

2: College scholarships 

College scholarships are forms of aid that help students pay for their education. College scholarships generally are academic or performance based. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid.

3: Work Study

Work-study is a federal student aid program designed to help students earn money for school. Nearly 3,400 post-secondary institutions are set up to receive work study funds. These funds are not directly applied to your college tuition. You will receive a paycheck, just like a normal job.

4: Education Loans:

An Education Loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid, with interest. When students receive a student loan, they are borrowing money to attend college. It is important to understand repayment options to successfully repay student loans.

Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships:

The first step in applying for student financial aid is to create a Student Aid Account at This serves as the electronic signature needed to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA is an application used by colleges, universities, and career schools for awarding federal, state and college-funded financial aid. The free application is completed at the website (link above).
The Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE) oversees state scholarship and grant programs. You can learn more and apply for Arkansas state financial aid programs at
Some of the state sponsored scholarship and grant programs in Arkansas include:

  • Academic Challenge Scholarship (Lottery Scholarship)
  • Challenge Plus Scholarship
  • Governor’s Distinguished Scholars Program
  • Arkansas Future Grant
  • Arkansas Workforce Challenge
  • Law Enforcement Officers’ Dependents Scholarship
  • Military Dependents Scholarship
  • Arkansas National Guard Tuition Waiver Program
  • State Teacher Education Program

Arkansas Student Loan Authority Resources:

The Arkansas Student Loan Authority (ASLA), in connection with the Arkansas Division of Higher Education, produces a “How to Pay for College” booklet each academic year. These two state agencies provide access to higher education through financial aid programs and college planning information for Arkansas students and their families. The information contained in this resource includes the financial aid application process and the many financial aid programs available to assist students paying for higher education. The “How to Pay for College” booklet can help a student achieve any level of education beyond high school including certificate programs, two and four-year degrees and graduate degrees.
The “How to Pay for College” booklet is available for download on the ASLA website at You can also request a free paper copy of the booklet to be mailed to you. ASLA’s College Cost Calculator is another free resource which can help you understand the cost of borrowing student loans and determine the most cost-effective loan options.
Lavonne Juhl, ASLA’s College Planning Services Manager, stated “Arkansas families should never pay for help completing the FAFSA or any other financial aid form.” She is available, along with the Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE) and college financial aid offices, to provide free financial aid assistance.