Ask Cappex: Does FAFSA Money Need to be Repaid?

In Paying for College on Apr 26, 2016

Our college expert Mark Kantrowitz answers your questions about college and financial aid.

Q: Do I have to pay back the money I get from FAFSA?

A: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to apply for financial aid from the federal government, state government and most colleges and universities. This includes several different types of financial aid, such as gift aid and self-help aid.

  • Gift aid is money that does not need to be repaid or earned, like grants, scholarships and tuition waivers. It includes the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
  • Self-help aid includes student employment programs, like Federal Work-Study (FWS) and student loan programs, like the Federal Stafford Loan and Federal Perkins Loan. Student loans must be repaid.

Colleges assemble the different types and sources of financial aid into a financial aid package, which is reported to eligible students through a financial aid award letter

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