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Your financial aid package is likely to include funds from the federal student aid programs. These programs, described below, are administered by the U.S. Department of Education. It is important to note that not all schools participate in all federal student aid programs. Check with your high school guidance counselor or the college's financial aid office to make sure your school participates in the federal program(s) you are interested in.

Federal Programs
With few exceptions Federal Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students only. Grants usually do not have to be repaid. Currently, the maximum annual amount is $5,645.

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is available to students who plan to teach. In order to be eligible for awards of up to $4,000 per year, the candidate must have at least a 3.25 GPA for each payment period. Upon graduation, the student must teach full-time for at least four years within eight years of completing their program, in a school designated as Title I by the U.S. Department of Education, in a high needs subject area. Failure to fulfill the obligation causes the award to convert to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

Federal Stafford Loans are student loans that must be repaid and are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Beginning July 1, 2010, all new Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans will come directly from the U.S. Department of Education under the Direct Loan Program. First-year undergraduates are eligible for loans up to $5,500. No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. Amounts increase for subsequent years of study, with higher amounts for graduate students.

If you qualify (based on need) for a subsidized Stafford loan, the government will pay the interest on your loan while you are in school, during grace periods and during any deferment periods. You are responsible for paying all of the interest that accrues on an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

The interest rate for all loans first disbursed between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014 is 3.86 percent.

Federal PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans made to parents to pay for a child’s college education. The interest rate is fixed at 6.41 percent.

Campus-Based Programs
Campus-Based Programs are administered by participating schools. There are three of these programs:

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are grants available for undergraduates only; annual awards range from $100-$4,000.

Federal Work Study provides jobs to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.

Perkins Loans are low-interest (5 percent) loans that must be repaid; the maximum annual loan amount is $5,500 for undergraduate students and $8,000 for graduate students.

State/School Programs
The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend is the best place to begin your search for free information. The financial aid administrator can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself and other sources.

The school is required to inform you of its aid procedures and deadlines, and how and when you’ll receive your aid award. Be sure that you’ve read and understood each school’s satisfactory academic progress policy and keep copies of your enrollment agreement, the school’s catalog, and all financial aid documents (especially loan documents) you receive.

Do Your Research
You can find a comprehensive explanation of all types of financial at You can also find information about federal, state, school and private student aid in your local library’s reference section (usually listed under “student aid” or “financial aid”).

Information may also be available from not-for-profit foundations, religious organizations, community organizations and civic groups, as well as organizations related to your field of interest, such as the American Medical Association or American Bar Association. You can also check with your parents’ employers or unions to see if they award scholarships or have tuition payment plans.

Source: FAFSA on the Web, US Department of Education (

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