Don’t let the cost of college stop you from starting or completing a degree. There are ways to pay for it, including financial aid. These steps will walk you through the process.

Step 1. Learn the types of financial aid. 

Scholarships are awarded by private donors and colleges and are not repaid. Ask your college about scholarships they offer and see ScholarshipQuest for a list of free scholarship search sites.

Grants* are based on financial need and you don’t repay them. They include:

  • Pell Grant
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Nebraska State Opportunity Grant
  • College-based grants

Work-Study* is also based on financial need and provides part-time campus-based employment to help pay for college expenses.

Loans* are a type of financial aid you must repay. They include:

  • Direct Subsidized Loan
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Direct Grad PLUS Loan

*These types of financial aid are based on FAFSA results.

Step 2. Create an account.

To begin the process of applying for financial aid, you and a parent must each create an account at This is the site you will use to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for and track student loans.

Step 3. Complete the FAFSA.

The FAFSA is your application for federal, state, and college-based financial aid. Complete the form at by the college’s priority date to get the best financial aid package.

  • The colleges you list on the application will use your FAFSA information (your income, assets, and family size) to award financial aid.
  • After you submit your FAFSA, expect a Student Aid Report via an email link. It confirms that your FAFSA was received.
  • Complete the FAFSA every year you’re in college.

For free help with the FAFSA, see FAFSA Tools or contact the EducationQuest location nearest you. 

Step 4.  Be prepared for verification.

Watch your student portal and email closely as the college might request verification of your FAFSA information. The college will not process your financial aid package until you provide the required documents.

Step 5. Expect financial aid offers.

The colleges you listed on your FAFSA will notify you of the types and amounts of financial aid they’re offering you. You will only receive offers from colleges that accepted you for admission. Accept or reject the financial aid package by the deadline.