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Financial Aid Basics

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid helps students and their families pay for college. This financial assistance covers educational expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are several types of financial aid, including grants and scholarships, work study and loans. Financial aid awards may include a combination of the various types of aid.

Types of Aid:

There are two basic types of financial aid: Gift Aid and Self-Help Aid.

Gift Aid includes Federal Grants, State Grants, scholarships and other benefits (such as Veteran's Benefits. This type of aid is free and does not need to be repaid.

Self-Help Aid includes student loans or work-study. This type of aid must be repaid or earned. 

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for financial aid (gift aid) you will need to meet these requirements:
• U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizenship
• Illinois residency for state grants only (If you are a dependent, the parent whose information is used must be an Illinois resident)
• Demonstration of financial need
• Maintenance of satisfactory academic progress as determined by your college
• No default status on any student loan, no refund owed on any state or federal grant
• No bachelor's degree (you may still apply for a federal loan)
• Compliance with Federal Selective Service registration requirements
• Not currently incarcerated
• High school graduate or GED recipient
• Degree-seeking undergraduate student

How is Financial Aid Calculated?

To apply for Financial Aid you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at

Based on the financial information you enter on the FAFSA, the government uses a formula to decide how much you can pay for college out of pocket. That number is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. Triton will subtract your EFC from the school’s annual cost of attendance (which includes tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and transportation) to determine your financial need.

If you qualify for need-based financial aid, you will be offered grants to cover some or all of your Financial Need.

If you do not receive enough Gift Aid to cover your cost of attendance, or if you did not qualify for any Aid at all, you will be given the opportunity to apply for a Student Loan, and/or Triton’s work study program.


The following videos will explain the Financial Aid process in greater detail.

Overview of the financial aid process:

How to Fill Out the FAFSA:

After the FAFSA: What Happens Next: