Financial aid consists of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study employment opportunities that are available to help students pay for the cost of attending college.
- Gift aid does not have to be repaid and does not require a work commitment from the student. Grants and scholarships are examples of gift aid.
- Self-help aid requires either repayment or a work commitment from the student. Loans and work-study are examples of self-help aid.
- Need-based aid is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need by providing documentation of insufficient personal and family resources to pay for college.
- Merit-based aid is awarded to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement or talent in the arts, athletics, or other areas.
Watch our series
Watch our Financial Aid Preparation video series (available in English and Spanish) to help guide yourself through the process.
For most colleges, the financial aid application(s) you need to complete depends on whether you are eligible for federal student aid.
Are you a U.S. citizen, Legal Permanent Resident (have a green card), or eligible non-citizen? If so, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for every year that you enroll in college, and submit it before your college’s priority deadline so that you can get as much aid as possible. Your college may also require you to complete an additional financial aid application, such as the CSS Profile.
If you are not eligible for federal aid (for example, if you have DACA or are undocumented), check with your college’s financial aid office to learn which application(s) to complete, and submit by your college’s priority deadline so that you can get as much aid as possible. Many Colorado colleges use the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA), which is an online application similar to the FAFSA. Other colleges may require you to complete the CSS Profile or the college’s own aid application.
Note: If you are a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (have a green card), do not submit CASFA. You must complete the FAFSA to apply for financial aid.
- If you’re at a high school with a DSF Future Center, you can get financial aid help from your DSF College Advisor.
- If you’re not at a high school with a DSF Future Center, reach out to your counselor.
- If you’re a DSF Scholar enrolled in college, you can get financial aid help from your DSF Advisor or from your college’s financial aid office – many colleges offer workshops and drop-in help for financial aid.
- The Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) offers assistance with financial aid applications to Denver metro residents. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit EOC’s website.
- Looking for help with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or obtaining IRS Tax Return Transcripts? Read more here.