Need-Based Financial Aid

  • What is Financial Aid?
  • Terms to Know in the College Financial Aid Process
  • How/When Should I Apply for Financial Aid?
  • Components of the Need-Blind Financial Aid Package
  • After You Receive the Need-Based Financial Aid Package, What’s Next?

For a comprehensive summary and explanation of the following points and terms, please access the Financial Aid/Scholarship Section of the CCO Guidebook here
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money given, lent, or paid to the student to cover all or part of a college’s total costs. The largest single source of financial aid (for US citizens and US permanent residents) is the US federal government, followed by state governments, then colleges, and then private and corporate organizations.

Terms to Know In the College Financial Aid Process
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – Each college calculates an amount the family is expected to pay toward the student’s college tuition and related expenses

Need-blind Admissions-Financial need is not factor in the college’s admission evaluation process

Need-aware Admissions- Financial need is a factor in the college’s admission evaluation process

Meeting 100% of Demonstrated Need- The college offers a financial aid package (including grants, loans, and work study that fully covers the difference between the cost of attending the institution and the family’s EFC

Gapping- The college is unable to cover the full difference between its cost of attendance and the family’s EFC

How and When should Families Apply for Financial Aid?
It’s never too early to prepare for the financial aid application process. The first step, which should be taken before the fall of senior year, is to utilize at least one of the online Net Price Calculators (NPC) available to begin to determine your EFC. The CCO suggests accessing application NPCs on several colleges' admission sites to compare potential college costs at different colleges. 

Two primary forms used to apply for federal and institutional financial aid: 
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): click here. 

The College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile sponsored by the College Board: click here

Components of the Need-Based Financial Aid Package:
  • Gift aid, Grants, and Scholarships
  • Work-Study Programs
  • Education loans

After You Receive The Need-Based Financial Package – What’s Next?
If you have any questions or concerns about your financial aid award, never hesitate to contact the college's Office of Financial Aid. Financial aid officers are very willing to answer questions and to help you understand how they calculated your EFC. 

Need-based financial aid is awarded on a yearly basis, so you will need to reapply each year with the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile forms. Changes in the family’s financial situation will be considered each new academic year.

Merit-Based Scholarships
Merit Scholarships are awarded in recognition of special skills, talents, or academic achievements and are not based on financial need. The largest source of merit scholarships is individual colleges, though not all colleges award merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are also awarded by scholarship foundations, community organizations, employers, and corporations. 

Sources of information for merit-based scholarships:
  • Online resources, including and
  • Naviance listings maintained by the CCO for Governor’s students
  • Individual college websites
  • Public high school websites, local news sources, and the public library in your hometown
  • You or your parents’ employer(s)

If merit-based scholarships are an important factor in your college process, your college list should include a greater proportion of schools rated as "likely" for admission by your College Counselor. Your academic profile will put you towards the top of the applicant pools in your likely schools, increasing the likelihood they might incentivize your admission with a merit-based scholarship.

No legitimate scholarship opportunity (or locator service) requires a financial fee. Students should avoid any scholarship, or scholarship search service, that requires a monetary fee.

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