Financial Aid

Financial Aid: The Basics

Everyone should apply for financial aid.

Determining who will receive aid is a complicated process.  Family income alone does not predict your eligibility.  A number of factors are considered including family size, indebtedness and educational expenses for other family members. The only way to know if you are eligible for financial aid is to actually apply.

Parents should involve students in the financial aid process.

The financial aid process is the first step that students take in learning to manage their own financial matters.

We encourage you to not eliminate any school, on the basis of the cost alone.                   

If you or your family is unable to afford the full cost, you may qualify for enough money to pay for the school that you want to attend.

Financial Aid is money that is supplied by outside sources to help pay for the costs of your college, vocational, or trade school education - both direct costs (tuition, fees, and books) and living expenses (food, housing, transportation, and personal expenses).

There are two basic categories of financial aid:  need-based and non-need-based.

Non-need-based aid is also known as merit-based aid. It’s generally given to students in recognition of special skills, talent, or academic ability. Qualifications for merit-based aid are usually competitive and recipients are chosen because of their abilities in whatever criteria are used for selection, i.e. musical talent, athletic ability, field of study, community service, or leadership abilities.

Need-based aid constitutes the major portion of assistance available, based on a family’s resources to pay for an education beyond high school. Whether or not you have sufficient resources is determined through a need assessment (financial data about your family and then analyzing that data according to a standard set of expectations). This need analysis results in an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is the funds that a student’s family is expected to contribute toward education expenses for a given year. Use the free EFC calculator at to get a head start.

 There are three basic types of need-based aid:

Grants and scholarships don’t need to be repaid or maintained by a job. Grants are based on financial need alone, while scholarships are given to students who have met specific criteria.

Work-study allows students to work 10-15 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during the summer to earn money to help pay for school.

Loans are the most widely available sources of need-based aid. You must repay them, but the interest rates for student loans are often lower than commercial loans, and payments are usually deferred until after the student has completed college.

To begin the process, you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at, beginning in January of your senior year. This application determines your qualifications for federal aid in obtaining grants and loans. Please be aware that there are websites and organizations that advise they’ll complete the FAFSA form for you for a fee.   Instead, we encourage you to fill out the FREE form, by following the step-by-step instructions.  The application is on-line and you can access it by clicking here: FAFSA Application.

Sources of Financial Aid

  • Federal Government (largest source of need-based aid)
  • State Government
  • Post-secondary Institutions
  • Private Organizations

Most students will need to use a combination of grants, loans, and work-study options.  This is known as the financial aid package which is determined by the Financial Aid Administrators at the colleges in which you apply.

For more detailed information regarding the completion of the FAFSA form and understanding Financial Aid, we invite you to attend our annual Financial Aid workshop in the Longwood High  School Auditorium, in December.  The exact date is advertized in our Calendar of Events page         and on the district calendar. 

Need help with the FAFSA Form?

High School seniors and their parents should be exploring their financial aid options as they prepare to attend college in the Fall of 2012. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in this process; however, some students don't know where to begin, or have specific questions when completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA Hotline is here to help during Financial Aid Awareness Month, through February, with individual assistance to students and parents. HESC offers guidance on important questions such as:

  • How do I get started?
  • What do I do if my parents have not filed their taxes yet?
  • How do I send information to more than 10 colleges?
  • What if my parents don't file income taxes?
  • Am I an independent or dependent student?
  • How do I complete the FAFSA if my parents are divorced?
  • How do I know if I am eligible?
  • Who is included in my family size?

HESC's FAFSA hotline staff is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 12 noon to 5 p.m. to assist your students and their parents toll free at 1-800-808-1790, or via e-mail at Students and families may also visit FAFSA HOTLINE and/or for additional information


Internet Resources—Financial Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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