Financial aid available to students in need

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A wide range of financial aid is available for students who need funding help in order to get into college and get their degree.

At the federal level, the most basic eligibility requirements for financial aid are that students must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen, have a valid Social Security number, and students should be able to prove that they have qualified to obtain a post-secondary education with a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

Paid federal financial aid can cover expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are four federal categories of student financial aid.

-- Grant money generally does not have to be repaid. Most U.S. Department of Education grants will be based on financial need.

-- Scholarship-U.S. Department of Education money is awarded based on student's academic success and does not have to be repaid.

-- Work-study money is earned by students through a job on or near campus. The job is held while attending school. It also does not have to repaid.

-- Federal loan money must be repaid with interest.

For more about federal financial aid, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.

At the state level, financial aid is available through Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, or HOPE, Georgia's scholarship and grant program.

The grant "rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma, and certificate programs at eligible Georgia postsecondary institutions. For more information about HOPE, visit www.gacollege411.com.

According to Tee Mitchell, director of admissions with Georgia Gwinnett College, "financial aid and admissions go hand in hand when students apply in October."

Added Mitchell: "We try to stress that it's critical that students complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, each year. It's an important component of the college admissions process for those seeking financial aid."