The U. S. Department of Education supports several grants and low-interest student loans. To be considered, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Pell grants and Perkins loans are awarded to students with the greatest financial need. The college work-study program pays students to work up to twenty hours per week.
Scholarships come from many sources, and sometimes unusual ones. For example students who score well on standardized tests such as the PSAT may qualify for merit awards. Most colleges offer need and merit-based scholarships. States also offer scholarships. Private companies often award scholarships to children of employees; children of veterans, firefighters and policemen may also be eligible for scholarships or grants. There are even scholarships for cancer survivors.
Many professional organizations also award scholarships. Ethnic and minority scholarships abound and include people of almost all descents: African-American, Pacific Islander, even Welsh. Athletic scholarships are awarded by schools, local community groups and sports organizations.
High school guidance counselors can provide information about scholarships and grants. Most scholarships require an essay as part of the application—the single-most reason why so many go unclaimed.