Q: I know about federal financial aid for college, but what is state financial aid for college?
A: Often times the main focus when it comes to paying for college is placed on federal financial aid and federal student loan programs. It is important to recognize that while federal student loans are likely one of the best ways to help pay for a college education, your local state government also may offer forms of financial aid for college.
State governments offer a variety of financial aid assistance programs, but it is important to know that many of these programs are only available to state residents attending schools within that state, though some states will make exceptions for state residents attending out-of-state schools. A few states will even allow non-residents to receive financial aid while attending a school within the state because of reciprocity arrangements with other states (for example, the state of Wisconsin and the state of Minnesota).
States have dozens of special programs for specialized areas of study, work-study programs, and special academic supplements. Applying for state financial aid or state based programs is going to differ from state to state, so it is important to view your own states website or contact them directly. Many times to qualify for state aid programs, students will need to start by completing the FAFSA. Some great resources to turn to in order to find out about programs your state offers are high school guidance counselors, your college financial aid office, or your state’s education agency. As always, it is important to apply early and thoroughly investigate all potential sources of State and Federal financial aid.