Financial aid is a very complex topic and is different for everyone.
As I was designing this site, I was thinking of putting many details of financial aid on this site; however, I ended up redirecting you to the federal government's financial aid information page. This is very comprehensive and from a trusted source with excellent, factual information. Please look at this site in detail to get a better understanding of financial aid. Further, I have often found that college financial aid links are valuable, as well.
Just to get you started, I have included a few key terms and information to give you some base knowledge before proceeding to the site.
Money for college that doesn't have to be repaid. Often times, this is based on your financial need.
This is the financial form that should be filled out no sooner than October 1st of senior year. It gives the colleges that you are applying to a snapshot of your financial picture and helps to determine how much you can "afford."
Notice the word FREE
Never pay to have someone fill this out for you. In fact, the federal government has a direct hotline number with live help. Further, this hotline is open extended hours during FAFSA filing season. 1-800-433-3243
Money for college that doesn't have to repaid. Often times, this is based on your talents.
College Financial Aid Officers
These folks are experts in the field of financial aid. Like college representatives, I have always found them to be very helpful. If you have questions about financial aid, call one of the officers in the financial aid office of the college you are thinking of attending. Even if you are not certain about where you may attend, it is not a bad idea to reach out to the financial aid offices for help. General financial aid principles are rather consistent among institutions.
Borrowed money that has to be repaid.
Other Financial Forms
Some institutions, often private and more selective schools, have other required financial aid forms. It is important to check with the financial aid offices at the colleges of interest to see what forms are recommended and/or required.