June 4, 2021

Understanding Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid

It’s all in the details when it comes to financial aid. When you receive your scholarships, grants or loans be sure you know what requirements need to be met at the end of each semester or academic year. This can include enrollment status, credit hours, your GPA and even community service hours.

Financial Aid

The Office of Federal Student Aid provides grants, loans and work-study funds for college and career school. Your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is what will determine how much you will receive in assistance through this program.

Click here learn more about the Office of Federal Student Aid

Federal Assistance for Student Aid (FAFSA)

Each year in order to receive your Federal Student Aid you must complete your FAFSA online. You will create an account going into your first year of college and continue to update and reapply using the same account each year.

Important Dates:  The FAFSA form for the 2019-2020 school year will be available on October 1st, 2018

Access or create your FAFSA account here

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grant: This grant can be received for no more than 12 semesters. It is awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelors or professional degree. The amount awarded is based on financial need and your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).

More information on Federal Student Grant Programs can be found here

Tennessee Lottery Programs

Tennessee Promise: This is a last dollar scholarship for students who will be attending two-year colleges or Technical Schools in Tennessee.

Tennessee Hope: To be eligible for this program, students must be attending a public or private college/university in Tennessee, have a high school GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of 21 or higher. Once, in college there are additional GPA and credit requirements.

HOPE Access: Entering college first-years must have a minimum 2.75 GPA and 18-20 ACT score to be eligible. This is a non-renewable grant.

TN Student Assistance Award: This provides non-re-payable financial assistance to financially needy TN undergraduate students who are enrolled in school at least half time.

Tennessee Education Lottery Program-Eligible Institutions

Learn more about available TN Education Lottery Programs

NOTE: If you have been awarded TSAA and/or the TN Lottery Scholarships and you decide to attend or transfer to a different school you must contact TSAC/ Lottery in writing by September 1st for the Fall or February 1st for the Spring

Student Loans

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. (Some people refer to these loans as Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans.)

Direct Subsidized Loans: These loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. Your school will determine the amount you can borrow and the US Dept. of Education pays the interest on the loan.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans: There is no requirement to show financial need to receive this loan. You are responsible to pay the interest on this loan even while in school.

PLUS Loans: These loans are available for graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school.

Learn more about Federal Loans  

Private Grants and Scholarships

Intuitional Aid: This is money offered to you directly from your college or university and is deducted from your tuition. Award amounts usually depend on academics (GPA, ACT/SAT), financial need and intended major. You will normally be made aware of your award upon being accepted into the school. For more information you will want to talk to the financial aid office at your college or university.

Community Foundation Scholarships: These are scholarships that are administered by staff at the foundation but funded by private donors, clubs or corporations. For each scholarship there are different eligibility requirements. Visit our “How to Apply” page to learn more.

CFGC Scholarship Award Amounts

National Scholarships: There are many opportunities to receive scholarships that are open to rising college first years. These scholarships are often merit based and highly competitive.

Regional and State Scholarships: Using a large database will help you find scholarships that match your, GPA, Region and intended major. Note: when making an account through FastWeb be sure to create a new email account specifically for this site.

Working/ Earning Income While in School

Federal Work Study: Part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need allowing you to earn money and pay for education expenses.

If you decide to work off campus try not to work more than 20 hours each week. The income you earn working may affect your financial aid for next year. Also know that the more time spent working the less time you will be able to spend studying.