Financial Aid FAQ

What Is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money that helps students pay for college. There are several types of financial aid –
  • Scholarships and Grants – Money that doesn’t have to be repaid.
  • Loans – Money that must be repaid, with interest.
  • Work Study- Money that’s earned while attending school and that doesn’t have to be repaid.
Financial aid awards may include a combination of the various types of aid. The amount of financial aid that a student receives is determined through federal, state and institutional guidelines.
How To Receive Financial Aid?
To receive financial aid, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required for federal financial aid programs, DC state grants, as well as other institutional colleges’ financial aid. You can submit the FAFSA as early as October 1 each year. Some colleges may require you to submit the CSS Profile, to apply for institutional financial aid. Check with the colleges about any additional applications and deadlines. DCPS students should also submit the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG). DCTAG pays the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, up to $10,000 annually at public colleges and up to $2,500 at private colleges in DC and private HBCUs nationwide.
How Do I Fill Out The FAFSA?
To complete the FAFSA, go to To start the FAFSA, you’ll need an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. Both the student and parent will need to create an FSA ID.  To complete the FAFSA you’ll need to provide information from your social security number, parent’s social security numbers, your family’s federal income tax returns, W-2s, and bank statements. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfers your IRS tax information directly into your FAFSA.
What’s Next After Submitting The FAFSA?
After you submit the FAFSA online, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a summary of your submitted FAFSA data and indicates your family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is NOT the amount of money a family will have to pay for college, nor is the amount of federal aid you will receive. Your EFC is a number that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you will receive. Unfortunately, not all colleges have enough aid to meet full need.  At these colleges, a “Gap” in the financial aid package can exist. The family may meet the shortfall through a variety of sources, including personal funds, college savings accounts, scholarships, or student loans.If you are looking for more detailed information, we suggest these as a starting point: