Find The Money You Need For College

January is fast approaching and that means it’s time for high school seniors to apply for college financial aid for the upcoming school year. Use the downtime during your holiday break to prepare and you’ll be on your way to financing your education.

Apply online at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website as early as possible beginning January 1, 2009. To save time, FAFSA recommends you first:

Gather the documents you need.

Print a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.

Plan how to sign your FAFSA.

Apply for a PIN (personal identification number).

Check your eligibility for federal student aid.

Note important deadlines.

Federal financial aid is available for students attending four-year, two-year, public or private, career or trade schools. The aid is intended to cover school expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and other supplies, and transportation. Most students receive the aid because of financial need.

Students can also receive financial aid in the form of grants, loans or work study. Grants include Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Loans include Federal Stafford Loans (made to students) and PLUS loans (made to parents). There are also direct loans, Perkins Loans, and the Federal Family Education Loan. Work-study programs provide jobs, usually on campus, so students can help pay for educational expenses.

To find out about federal financial aid programs and your rights and responsibilities under these programs, read “Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid” from the Department of Education. You also can request a free paper copy by contacting the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-FED-AID. The guide is available in English and Spanish. The FAFSA website is

ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides over one hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the areas of education and workforce development. Each year, ACT serves millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies – nationally and internationally.

Though designed to meet a wide variety of needs, all ACT programs and services have one guiding purpose – to help people achieve education and career goals.