Need help paying for college? Let’s talk!

Let’s begin by talking a little bit about the types of financial aid that are available to you. There are generally four types of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans.

A scholarship is money that doesn’t require repayment. While Illinois does offer merit-based scholarships and continuing student scholarships, which would both be considered an institutional scholarship, there’s another type of scholarship out there called an outside/private scholarship. What that means is that the money is not coming from your academic institution, but from another source. These sources can be local organizations, national/international organizations, community based organizations, corporations, etc.

A great place to start looking for local scholarships is with your high school guidance counselor. They are more than likely aware of some local scholarships that you could apply for. While local scholarships may not be worth the “big bucks,” that money can add up to quite a chunk of change. Also, there is less competition for local scholarships as opposed to national scholarships.

While I always recommend looking for scholarships in your local area, there are also federal and state scholarships. Some of these scholarships are geared towards younger students, but the majority of them open applications to students during the fall of their senior year.

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) will use your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to assess you for the remaining three types of financial aid (grants, work-study, and loans). Keep in mind, prior-prior went into effect last year which means that the FAFSA goes live on October 1. If you’d like to read more about prior-prior click here!

A grant is an award that is need-based and does not need to be repaid. Your need will be decided based on your FAFSA.

Work-study is basically having an on-campus job which will pay you just like a normal job would. The hope is that you will then utilize that money for some of your educational expenses. Keep in mind that if you are awarded work-study you will still need to go through the job search process (applying, interviewing, etc.). If you aren’t awarded work-study, don’t worry. There are many jobs on our campus that do not require work-study.

Loans are exactly what they sound like. They are money that is loaned to you which will need to be repaid with interest. Some things to pay attention to prior to taking out a loan are your responsibilities as a borrower, whether the loans are subsidized or unsubsidized, the interest rate, the source of the loan, etc.

There are also waivers as well as other types of aid that students and their families may look into, however, the most traditional types of student aid are the four listed above.

So now that you know a little bit more about how you can pay for college, be sure to ask questions! You’re always welcome to call OSFA, talk to your high school counselor, talk with your parents, and as always feel free to leave any questions below in the comment section!



Transfer Recruitment Coordinator, Undergraduate Admissions
I help transfer students navigate our application and admission process. I have a background not only in admissions but also in financial aid. I'm originally from southeastern Michigan.