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Financial aid is usually grouped into two main categories:

Gift aid is financial assistance that you do not have to repay. It includes need-based federal, state and institutional grants, all scholarships, veteran’s educational benefits and employer tuition reimbursement.

Self-help aid refers to educational loans or student employment. It includes both student and parent federal loans, alternative loans (from private lenders, banks or guarantee agencies), federal work-studies and assistantships.​