How can I get help paying for my education?

Many students find the cost of pursuing education beyond high school is the biggest barrier to getting started.  But help is out there — the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) reports that more than 80% of first-year students in our state receive some form of financial aid.   Still, millions of dollars available to students in Tampa Bay go untapped each year, as too many students miss out on opportunities for aid because of lack of information about what is available, myths about who would be eligible, and how to apply.

LEAP Tampa Bay volunteers work with our school district and college partners to help students fill out financial aid forms throughout the Fall and Spring each year. School district and college counselors or Financial Aid offices also are great resources anytime you have questions. Just use the links below to find them.

LEAP wants to help by making the basic information a little easier to access, starting with a “traditional” form of financial aid like the Federal Pell Grant.  A Pell Grant is money for lower-income students to access and does not require any repayment!  The application form – known as a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – while a little complicated, will get you considered for a Pell Grant based on the estimated contribution of the student and their family (known as their EFC – Estimated Family Contribution).

The State of Florida has a process for financial aid as well, and there are numerous scholarships and other resources that can be helpful.

Here are a variety of links to get you started:

Federal Financial Aid

  • Here are some common myths about the Federal FAFSA form and federal aid, with some of the realities.
  • Filling out the federal financial aid forms starts with a student and their parents each getting a separate Federal Student Aid Identification number – an FSA ID. Click for help on how to start.
  • Information on the FAFSA and how to start the application are HERE. The application opens on October 1st each year for the FOLLOWING school year – so for a student who wants to start school in Fall 2019, the FAFSA application is available on October 1st, 2018. And Pell Grant resources can run out, depending on the amount of money allocated by the Department of Education, so do a FAFSA as early as possible.
  • Here is a general information page and a page of information specifically for parents of students ready to start.
  • It is also important to know what student aid deadlines exist and to get your paperwork done in a timely fashion.

Florida Financial Aid