The following information is adapted from the U.S. Department of Education Web site, www.ed.gov.

The HOPE Scholarship

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 signed by President Clinton created the $1,500 HOPE Scholarship Program, aimed at making the first two years of college accessible to all Americans. Here's how The HOPE Program works: For students in the first two years of college (or other eligible post-secondary training), taxpayers are eligible for a tax credit equal to 100 percent of the first $1,000 of tuition and fees and 50 percent of the second $1,000. (This is subject to change.) The credit is available on a per-student basis for net tuition and fees (less grant aid) paid for college enrollment.

The credit can be claimed in two taxable years (but not beyond the year when the student completes the first two years of college), but the individual participating in educational training must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis for any portion of the year.

Pell Grant

The following information is adapted from The Student Guide to Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education.

A Pell Grant is a federally funded program where eligibility is based on demonstrated financial need. A Pell Grant does not have to be repaid. Funds are awarded to students enrolled in undergraduate programs but who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree (A professional degree would include a degree such as in the field of pharmacy or dentistry.)

How much you can get depends upon:

  • the cost of attending the training;
  • whether you attend full-time or on a part-time basis;
  • whether you attend school for a full academic year or less; and
  • a government formula known as the EFC or Expected Family Contribution.

If you're collecting UI benefits, you may be eligible for Pell grants and other financial aid to assist you in paying for education and/or job training. Learn more.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Priority is also given to those who receive Pell Grants. The financial aid office of the local educational institution awards this grant.

Like the Pell Grant, eligibility is based on demonstrated financial need. Funds are available to undergraduate students enrolled at least part-time in a degree program. Like the Pell Grant, the money you receive does not have to be repaid.

While the U.S. Department of Education guarantees that each participating school will receive enough money to pay for the Federal Pell Grants of its eligible students, there is no guarantee that every eligible student will be able to receive an FSEOG. Students at the approved education institutions are awarded these grants based on the availability of funds.

Stafford Loan

The U.S. Department of Education administers the Stafford Loan. There are two types:

  • Subsidized, which is based on student need and awarded as financial aid by your school. The government pays the interest while you are in school and for six months following graduation.
  • Unsubsidized, which is available to all students, regardless of need. The borrower is responsible for the interest, not the government.

The government does set borrowing limits. To qualify for a Stafford Loan, applicants must complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Information on how to obtain this application is provided at the end of this guide.

Federal Lifetime Learning Credit

This program was created for those beyond the first two years of college, or taking classes part time to improve or upgrade their job skills. The Lifetime Learning Credit enables families to receive a 20 percent tax credit for the first $5,000 of tuition and fees through 2002, and for the first $10,000 thereafter. Credit is available on a per-taxpayer (family) basis.