Financial Aid

In my family, there one cardinal priority- education. College was an option; it was mandatory. So even though we didn’t have a lot of money, we made it work. I signed up for financial aid, Pell Grants, work study, anything I could.

-Eva Longoria

what is financial aid?

Financial aid refers to the funds from outside sources to help pay for college. Financial aid can come from private sources or public sources. Depending on the aid, it can be used at a specific school or at the school of your choice. Some however do have their own rules and restrictions. Some financial aid is only to be used once.

“Gift Aid” Financial Aid


  • Does not have to be repaid
  • Can be merit-based or needbased
  • Can be offered from institutions or outside organizations
  • You should never have to pay to do a scholarship search – beware of scams


  • Does not have to be repaid
  • Awarded based on financial need and/or academic achievement
  • Some are federally funded and others are state programs
  • Some institutions have grant programs

“Self-Help” Financial Aid

Federal Work Study

  • Based on financial need
  • Allows students to earn income working part-time
  • Can work either on or off campus

Student Loans

  • Must be repaid
  • Direct Student Loans are federally funded
  • No credit check required on Federal loans
  • Private education loans are funded from lenders such as banks and credit unions
  • Private student loans are credit based

Determining Financial Need

How Student Need is Determined:
COA (Cost of Attendance) – EFC (Expected Family Contribution) = NEED (Financial Need)

breaking down c.o.a. & e.f.c

Cost of Attendance (COA)

  • Calculated by your school
  • Federally defined term
  • Limited in scope
  • Cost of Attendance includes allowances for:
    • Tuition and fees
    • Room and board
    • Books
    • Transportation
    • Personal expenses

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

  • Federally defined
  • Calculated annually, from financial aid forms (FAFSA, school-based forms, etc)
  • May or may not equal what you can pay
  • Changeable under certain circumstances
  • EFC is derived from:
    • Contribution from income – Parents
    • Contribution from Income – Student
    • Contribution from assets* – Parents
    • Contribution from assets* – Student
      • *Does not include equity in your primary home, family farm or small business

last minute reminders

  • Schools use this number to award you need-based financial aid
  • Some schools may not be able to meet all of your need through various forms of aid, others will not be able to meet all need
  • Unmet need can be met with family resources, funds from work or summer savings, private scholarships, student and/or parent loans
  • Unmet need is not the amount you will owe the school


Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA is the main application for federal financial aid. The largest provider of financial aid in the country is the federal government. Learn more about how to apply for FAFSA

CSS Profile

Apply for student grants and college financial aid using one application form. CSS Profile collects information used for financial aid decisions.

The CSS is an online application to determine eligibility for non-federal financial aid, which is administered by the College Board, creator of the SAT®. Not every college requires it, but nearly 400 colleges do, so be sure to first check if the schools you are applying to require it to determine whether your child needs to complete the application.


Latinx Opportunities is committed to sharing various scholarships, from local to national. Check out our working Google spreadsheet with different scholarships.

Understanding Your Financial Aid Packages

Latinx Opportunities is proud to offer free resources to help students understand more about financial aid packages and other tips.