College Planning

Financial Aid Explained

This article provides stats and an infographic that gives a helpful insight to financial aid, as well as deadlines and options available when applying for aid.

Money for college: Get the facts on financial aid

If you need help paying for college, you're not alone. That's why financial aid exists: To help students bridge the gap between what they have, and what it costs.

For those who want a better grasp on how you can pay for college, we've compiled the following facts, dates and stats - all summed up by a helpful infographic.

Click on image to enlarge.

The big picture:

  • Over the past 30 years, costs at four-year public colleges (i.e. tuition and fees) have risen over 250 percent.

  • The U.S. Department of Education provides about $100 billion in federal financial aid to students across the nation.

  • Financial aid comes in many shapes, including grants, loans, work-study benefits and tax breaks.

  • According to the College Board, in the 2013-14 academic year, undergraduate students received an average of $14,180 in financial aid per full time equivalent. Undergraduates received 54% of their funding in the form of grants, 37% as loans (including nonfederal loans), and 9% in a combination of tax credits or deductions and Federal Work‐Study .

  • While students must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a Pell Grant, federal loans are available to all students, whether they demonstrate financial need or not.

The deadlines:

  • State financial aid is often awarded on a first come, first served basis - so apply as early as possible, before funds run out.

  • The deadline for state financial aid can be as early as January, but it depends on where you live. Find your state.

  • Schools usually need all of your information by June 30, the last day of the academic year, but be sure to check your intended school to confirm their dates.

The options:

  • Grants are highly desired because you will receive them before your tuition is due and you don't have to pay them back.

  • Grants are available largely from the federal government, colleges and universities - but states, employers and other organizations may offer grants too.

  • In addition to grants, the federal government provides loans, work-study benefits, tax credits and deductions to help you find money for college.

  • State and federal aid are different. You have to apply for both in order to receive both.

For a summary of the steps involved in your countdown to financial aid, check out and share our “Countdown to Financial Aid” infographic.

For further information on financial aid, check out the student aid section on the website or

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Money for College

Don't let the process of getting money for college overwhelm you. There are lots of avenues to help pay for college. Whether you're seeking federal financial aid or state financial aid, Protective hopes you will use the information provided in this infographic to help guide you the process of securing money for your future education.