What Are the Different Types of Financial Aid Disbursement?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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Types of financial aid disbursement might refer to the kinds of financial aid that are given, the intervals at which money is awarded, or the form of the payment. Qualifying students may receive grants, loans or private scholarships. Money from these sources could arrive once a year, each term, or at other times based on special circumstances. Students often get checks or direct deposit of any awarded funds.

Federal financial aid or other government aid includes grants and loans. The amounts awarded are based on factors like income, merit, academic progress, and estimated attendance costs. Scholarships that are offered by private granting sources vary considerably, and they may or may not have the same financial aid disbursement rules. Since the exact amount of awards is difficult to determine, students need to fill out all paperwork and apply for the scholarships that interest them to get a sense of how much aid they might receive.

Once funds are offered, students are most often concerned with how and when they are distributed. Most federal or regional grants and loans are filtered through the school’s financial aid office. Schools may have student permission to deduct fees or tuition directly from an award before passing on the remainder. Private scholarships occasionally come directly to students, but sometimes they will also be sent to a financial aid department, first.


Colleges approach financial aid disbursement frequency in numerous ways. In schools based on a semester system, awards may be halved and distributed in fall and spring semesters. Quarter system schools could make awards more often or they may give half-year disbursements, but deduct tuition for multiple quarters.

One important feature in financial aid disbursement that can affect many students is what may occur if they also attend classes in summer quarters or semesters. This may be optional, but some programs require summer classes. Very frequently, there is no additional financial disbursement during summer months. Some students might be able to obtain additional loans to meet summer costs, in which case they’d get an extra disbursement. Others will need to budget carefully so that they have enough money to pay these costs from aid received earlier.

An additional element associated with financial aid disbursement concerns its timeliness. In numerous schools, students get funds before a term begins, particularly if applications were filed on time. Loans may be a little different for first time lenders, and some colleges require attendance for a few weeks to a full month before distributing funds from these sources. A variety of other things may also stall aid and make it difficult to pay for supplies or extras. Since delays in receiving financial aid are not that uncommon, a number of schools offer short-term book loans.

Greater reliance on electronic transfers of funds means many students have the option to get any financial aid disbursement deposited directly into a bank account. Some schools still issue checks, and these might be mailed or available for pick up in a financial aid office. Occasionally, tuition and fees can consume an entire award. If this occurs, students won’t directly receive any of the funds described in their benefit package.



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