The three types of financial aid: funds you do not have to pay back, funds you do have to pay back, and funds that you earn.
Grants and scholarships are awards you don't have to pay back. Grants usually come from the government. Common grants are the Federal Pell Grant, Minnesota State Grant, and the Alliss Opportunity Grant Program.
Scholarships can come from a school, community group, business, or the government. They're awarded based on financial need, athletic merit, academic performance, or other ability. You can use a free online scholarship finder like the one on CareerOneStop or Minnesota Office of Higher Education. You can also search News and Resources for scholarships for ex-offenders.
Check with your chosen college for scholarships that fit you. Ask the school if there are funds specifically for ex-offenders.
Loans are borrowed funds you have to repay with interest, usually after completing school. There are several different types with different interest rates and rules. Loans can come from the government or from private financial institutions. These include Stafford, Perkins, PLUS, and SELF Loans.
Work study is a part-time job offered through the college that helps you earn money toward your tuition. The types of jobs offered vary from working in the cafeteria, to tutoring other students, to working in an office on campus.
CareerOneStop's Financial Aid Advisor calculates your college costs and helps you learn where to find scholarship information and other important links. You can also use the Minnesota Financial Aid Estimator.
The most important thing to remember about financial aid it that you have to apply for it. Applying for admission to a college isn't enough. You'll need to complete a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.