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College Financial Planning and Eligibility

One of the first questions many of our prospective students ask is, “How will I pay for college?” The answer is the right combination of financial aid programs that can help you manage the costs involved in obtaining your degree and pursuing your dream career.

What Is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is funding — available to those who qualify — that can help you pay for tuition and various school expenses. There are several types of financial aid. A list of frequently used sources follows.

1. Loans and Grants


Backed by the government or private sources, loans are the most common type of aid. Government loans are backed by the federal government and include Federal Stafford and Federal Plus Loans. They have low interest rates, and are offered based on financial need. You may also choose to seek a private loan. These are independent of the government, and often have a higher interest rate.

State and Federal Grants

Awarded by the government, grants awarded by state and federal governments are also called “gift aid” because they do not need to be paid back.

2. Work or Work-Study

Working while you are in college, either full- or part-time, can help cover your personal costs or education-related expenses.

You might also want to consider work-study, which is a federal program that provides you with part-time employment to help you meet your financial needs. This program also gives you valuable work experience while you serve your campus and community.

3. Scholarships and Third-party Agencies

The Student Finance department at Virginia College can help you find additional financial aid options that are right for you. Scholarships and assistance from third-party agencies are among the options available to qualifying students.

For more about financial aid, download our Ultimate Guide to Paying for College!

Applying for Financial Aid

1. How Can I Start the Financial Aid Application Process?

First, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form starts the process for state and federal grants, loans, and work-study.

FAFSA Online

The simplest way to apply for federal aid is to fill out an application online. The whole process, from submission to tracking, can be taken care of at Before getting started, search for school codes on the FAFSA website so you can enter the correct Federal School Code.


After you submit your FAFSA online, you should apply for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). This is unique to you and will allow you to access U.S. Department of Education websites for your personal information. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone, as it can be used on federal applications as an electronic signature.

Before Getting Started

While it’s best to have information about your income handy before you fill out the FAFSA, it’s not necessary to have filed your taxes with the IRS first. Download our FAFSA Checklist to make sure you have everything you need before you apply.

What Happens After You Apply?

You will receive a letter or email containing your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the U.S. Department of Education a few days after submitting your FAFSA. The individualized SAR contains the data you entered in your application and should be reviewed for any mistakes. This report will also tell you the amount of your total costs that you will be expected to contribute. The Virginia College Student Finance Department can help with any questions you have about the information in your SAR.

2. Applying for Loans

Loans are an option if you need to pay your tuition cost and expenses over an extended period. These are often tax deductible and have a low interest rate. Some are based on individual need, while others are available regardless of need.

Federal Loans

Students at Virginia College may apply for Title IV federal student loan programs. Loans sponsored by the federal government generally have a lower interest rate and a grace period, during which you will not have to make payments. They also offer several plans for repayment. The school currently offers Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, and Parent Plus loans through the William D. Ford Direct Loan program with the U.S. Department of Education.

You can apply for a Direct Loan if you are a continuing student borrower or a first-time borrower. Students can apply for a Direct Loan by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and by electronically signing a Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Alternative Loans

Alternative loans are available from some banks. You should carefully review the information provided, as rates and conditions vary.