Is Financial Aid Free Money? Things You Should Know

Is Financial Aid Free Money

If you are among those seeking an answer to the question is financial aid free, then you are in the right place. But before we proceed, I will like you to know that financial assistance can come from any source. It could come from the federal, state government, private organization or individual, including a tertiary institution. However, the source doesn’t matter. What matters is the question;

Is financial aid free money?

Well, the answer is yes and no! There are several financial assistance out there, divided into Gift Aid and Non-Gift Aid. Any Gift Aid awarded to a student is free money. In other words, the recipient doesn’t have to pay back at any point in time. Such type of aid (free money) includes scholarships and grants. However, Non-Gift Aid isn’t a gift or free money. It’s a loan that the recipient needs to pay back at some point. So, not all financial aids are free money. It depends on the type of assistance one receives.

So, that’s it about financial aid. You can continue reading for more information on the topic.

What Does Financial Aid Mean?

Some individuals dream of going to college but don’t believe their dream can ever come to pass. The reason is not that they aren’t capable, but due to a lack of finance. Education is quite expensive, and it’s not possible to cut corners. You need money to purchase books, pay for tuition, eat, rent an apartment and do other things.

When you factor in the cost of going to a tertiary institution for an academic session alone, you will discover that it runs into thousands of dollars. So, every college or university student needs substantial financial support. Otherwise, there’s no point furthering one’s education.

And this brings us back to the question; what is financial aid? It refers to financial support or money offered to students seeking to further their education. This financial support can also come from different sources. It could be from the federal government, state government, your school of study or from private sources.

However, the source of money or aid doesn’t matter. What should matter most to you as a student is the type of assistance you are getting. Is such financial support repayable or not? That’s what should concern you the most.

Kinds Of Financial Aid Available For College Students

It’s interesting to know that college students have a plethora of financial support to choose from, whenever the need arises. And the beautiful thing is that one can decide to apply for multiple loans, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can apply for the financial aid and get approved, provided you are eligible for the said aid.

So, as I said earlier, there is tons of financial aid available for college student seeking to further their education. These include scholarships, grants, work-study funds and loans. Let’s look at each of them one after the other for better understanding.


First off, what’s the meaning of grant? It refers to a specific amount of cash that the government (federal or state) or other institutions offer to an individual for a known purpose. It could be for educational use or home improvements.

Grants can also be offered to an individual or organization that’s embarking on meaningful research. It could a research project to discover a cure for certain diseases, technology-wise or something that could have a positive impact all over the world.

It’s also important to note that not all grant application will be honored. Unless one satisfies the requirements to receive a grant, one’s grant application can be denied.

And as I said, grants can be offered by any individual or institution. It could come from the government, which include the federal or state government. Most colleges also provide grants to specific students.

What are grants offered to students based on? Here’s another question I expect anyone seeking a grant to ask. Fortunately, they are based on several factors. It could be need-based, merit-based, and or student-specific.

Below are some of the grants an individual can get from the federal government. You can go through them carefully for better understanding and make an informed decision when the need arises.

Pell Grants

If you are an undergraduate, keep in mind that the Pell Grant is precisely for your educational level. This grant is directly from the federal government, and aid amount depends on diverse factors. These include one’s financial needs, and how much the attendance for your school of interest costs, among other critical factors.

Another critical question to ask and things to know about the Pell Grant is how it works and eligibility.

Generally speaking, Pell Grants are paid directly toward one’s tuition and fees, including room and board, if applicable. After paying these fees, the leftover cash is paid into the recipient’s account. This grant is paid to students for six years or 12 semesters.

Now, what are the criteria for receiving or qualifying for the Pell Grant?  For you to be counted eligible for this grant, you must be a vocational student or an undergraduate. You also must have enrolled or have been accepted into your school of interest.

Again, an eligible candidate for the Pell Grant is someone who hasn’t acquired a professional or bachelor’s degree. And finally, to become qualified, participants are required to satisfy the Basic Eligibility Criteria requirements to be awarded federal financial support.

Other eligibility criteria for the Pell Grant: If you are applying for the Pell Grant, here are some of the requirements one has to satisfy:

  • Possess a social security number
  • Possess a GED certificate or high school diploma. Other equivalent certificates might be accepted.
  • You must prove that you seriously need financial aid
  • Must maintain excellent and acceptable academic progress
  • You must be a USA citizen or an eligible non-citizen.

These are some of the criteria that can make you eligible for the Pell Grant. Let go over other grants the federal government awards besides the Pell Grant.

FSEOG – (Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity)

The FSEOG is another grant awarded to undergraduate students. The only difference is that it’s not just awarded to any student but those who have a higher degree of financial needs.

How to be eligible for FSEOG

  • Applicant must possess a social security number.
  • The school of interest has to be accredited.
  • The applicant has to be a citizen of the United States of America.
  • An applicant must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • Applicant must be in pressing need of financial support.

The TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grants.

This grant is open to all, but you need to be eligible to be awarded such a grant. One of the eligibility criteria is that you must be ready to become a teacher, but that’s not all. Another requirement is that you must be prepared to teach in low-income regions.

IASG (Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants)

Here’s another grant reserved for select applicants. It’s a grant reserved for students who lost their guardian or parent that participated in Afghanistan or Iraqi military exercises. To be eligible, one’s parents must be a member of the United States armed forces and may have died in active service in either of both Middle East regions after September 11, 2011.


Any institution can offer a loan. It could come from a private institution or directly from the federal government. But keep in mind that loan isn’t free money. Students will have to pay back their loans, together with some interests once they graduate from college.

For those seeking federal loans, keep in mind that the two types of loans available are unsubsidized and subsidized loans.

Besides federal loans which are issued to students by the federal government, there are also private loans. As the name implies, private loans are issued to students by privately owned banks.

The two significant issues private loans have are, interest rates are a bit on the high side, and they depend mainly on the credit scores of the recipient.


If you are seeking a financial aid that is free money, then apply for a scholarship. Once you receive such an award, you don’t have to repay it. It’s entirely free and can be from anyone. You can receive a scholarship from a private organization or individual institution.

Below are factors upon which scholarships are awarded;

  • Race
  • Academic performance
  • Religious affiliation
  • Athletic ability


Let me make something clear; work-study isn’t financial aid. It’s just another means for students to use their abilities to earn money. The work-study program is open to student and offers them the opportunity to work, earn cash and pay their school levies.

All you’re expected to do is complete any assigned federally funded job which could be on campus or other approved location.


Is financial aid free money going by what you have read? I guess your answer will still be yes and no! Not all financial aid is free money. Let’s consider a Loan, for instance. A loan is not free money. In short, the recipient needs to pay back and with specific interests added to the original amount. However, a scholarship is free money. In other words, the recipient doesn’t have to repay such financial aid. I hope you now understand the answer to the question.

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