Paying for College
Financial aid is money that helps you pay for college. It
is added to the amount that you and your family can afford to
pay to cover the cost of your college. Merit-based financial
aid is aid given to students who have special talents, skills,
or abilities. Need-based financial aid is given to students
who show they have financial need. Most financial aid is
- Grants and scholarships are gift aid that you don't have
to pay back. Grants are usually given because the student
has financial need, while scholarships are usually given
to recognize the student's academic achievement, athletic
ability or other talent.
- Loans must be repaid, usually with interest, after you
graduate or stop going to school.
- Employment, usually called work-study, lets you work and
earn money to help pay for school-related expenses. These
jobs are usually on-campus.
Most students receive a combination of these types of aid
in a financial aid package put together by their college
financial aid office. All financial aid combined may not
exceed the student's cost of education.
The federal government provides most student financial aid.
The Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational
Opportunity Grant, Federal Perkins and Federal Stafford Loans,
and Federal Work Study are examples of their programs. The
State of Maryland has scholarship and grant programs based on
a student's financial need, talents and gifts, or on career
choice. Colleges and universities also have scholarships
available for students. Some of the scholarships are based on
need and some on talents and abilities. A number of civic
organizations, associations, clubs, foundations, churches and
companies also provide financial aid.
Each year, the State of Maryland awards almost $110
million in financial aid to over 56,000 Maryland residents.
Maryland students use this aid at community colleges,
colleges and universities, private career schools, and the
State's 13 public four-year campuses. The Office of Student
Financial Assistance, a division of the Maryland Higher
Education Commissions, handles the administration of the
financial aid funds.