How to Pay for College

Start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Completing the FAFSA is the first step in receiving financial aid. The FAFSA application is used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on provided financial information. Your EFC score is the amount the federal government expects you to contribute toward the cost of college and helps determine how much you qualify for in financial aid. Based on this information, your college’s financial aid office produces your individual financial aid package detailing your financial aid award and how much you will be expected to pay out of pocket.

Tackle common concerns

  • My family can’t afford to pay for my college. College is expensive, but there are multiple ways to finance your education. Check out additional financial aid resources  to learn more.
  • I don’t even know where to start. Financial aid seems confusing! Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website at for great info. In the fall, attend financial aid sessions at your school and talk with your school counselor.

When should I apply for financial aid? The FAFSA opens October 1. Federal aid is awarded on a first-come first-serve basis so be sure to complete the FAFSA as early as possible. Visit for tips on filling it out.

Understand types of aid

  • Grants may come from the federal government, the state of Delaware, or the college.
  • Scholarships are available from a variety of organizations. Visit for information on scholarships awarded by the Delaware Higher Education Office. The SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) and Inspire Scholarships are available for Delaware residents.
  • Federal Loans are funded by the government and are repaid with interest. Fixed interest rates and income-based repayment plans are often used to make paying off loans easier for recipients.
  • Private Loans are made by a lender, such as a bank, with higher and more varied interest rates. Repayment options are less flexible than federal loans.

Check the price

The tuition cost listed online (sticker price) is not always the price students pay (net price). Your cost will depend on your family income. Use the net price calculator available on college websites to estimate the total amount that you will pay in an academic year. Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website to learn more.