Accounting Degree Financial Aid: Paying for Your Education

Paying for accounting degree

The decision to earn an accounting degree is an extremely important one. The specialized education and training you receive will provide you with the necessary tools and knowledge to have a great accounting career. But how will you pay for your accounting degree?

Earning an accounting degree is an investment in your future—and Financial Aid for accounting degrees can be the stepping-stone to that future. Financial aid exists to assist students with their college expenses, so that financial barriers do not prevent them from achieving their goals.

So don’t worry—with financial aid, you can get help for your accounting degree!

So, What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is, of course, money—it’s money that is made available to help students pay for the costs of attending a college or university. Financial aid is provided by federal, state, institutional, or private sources and may consist of grants, loans, work-study, or scholarships. Each year, billions of dollars are given or lent to students, and about half of all college students receive some sort of financial aid.

There are two basic types of financial aid—need based and merit based. Most financial aid is awarded based on financial need, college costs, and the availability of funds. This aid is provided to students because neither they nor their families have all of the resources needed to pay for a college education. This kind of aid is referred to as need-based aid.

What are the eligibility requirements for need-based financial aid for accounting degrees?

In general, to be considered eligible for federal financial aid, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an accredited institution
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress in your course of study
  • Not be in default on any loan or owe a refund or repayment on any previous financial aid received at any institution attended
  • Be registered with the Selective Service, if you are required to do so

Merit-Based Aid

Merit-based aid is awarded to students who regardless of financial need. Students are given assistance because they have a special skill or ability, display a particular talent, have a certain grade point average, or are enrolled in a specific program. Occasionally, accounting scholarships are available and are rewarded based on merit, not need.

Sources of Financial Aid

There are several types of financial aid offered to help pay for educational expenses:

  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Student employment (work study)
  • Scholarships

Grants and accounting scholarships are “gifts” and do not have to be repaid. Loans, of course, are borrowed money that must be paid back over a period of time, usually after the student leaves school (whether or not the student graduates). Student employment is normally part-time work arranged for a student during the school year, and is often called work-study.

The primary source of aid for students is the federal government. The federal government offers both grant and loan financial aid programs. Additional state assistance may also be available (check with your state). Other sources of aid that award money to students come from private foundations such as corporations, civic associations, unions, fraternal organizations, and religious groups. In addition, many companies offer tuition reimbursement to their employees and/or their employees’ dependents. The personnel department at either your or your parents place of employment can tell you whether or not the company offers this benefit and who may be eligible. Lastly, there are also some colleges that offer awards from their own funds or from money received from various organizations. This type of aid is often referred to as “institutional aid.”

Determining Financial Aid Eligibility and Financial Need

Eligibility for financial aid for accounting degrees is determined by subtracting the amount you and your parents can contribute from the cost of attendance. An assessment of your family’s ability to contribute toward educational expenses is made based on the information you provide when applying for financial aid. Income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college are some of the factors considered in this calculation. This assessment, referred to as need analysis, determines your financial need, which is defined as the difference between the total cost of attendance and what you are expected to pay. Financial need will vary between colleges because of each school’s different costs of attendance.

Determining the Student’s Status: Independent or Dependent?

Remember that both students and parents are expected to help pay for college costs. This means that you, as the student, will be expected to contribute to your educational expenses.

If you are considered dependent by federal definition, then your parents’ income and assets, as well as yours, will be counted toward the family contribution. If you are considered independent of your parents, only your income (and that of your spouse, if you are married) will count in the need analysis formula.

To be considered independent for financial aid, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be at least 24 years old.
  • Be a veteran of the U.S. armed forces.
  • Be married.
  • Be an orphan or ward of the court.
  • Have legal dependents other than a spouse.
  • Be a graduate professional student.

Applying for Financial Aid

To apply for financial aid for your accounting degree, it is essential that you properly complete the necessary forms so that your individual financial need can be evaluated. It is important to read all application materials and instructions very carefully. The financial aid office of the school you are attending will be happy to provide you with guidance and assistance.

Most colleges and universities use just one financial aid application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is a four-page application available at your college’s financial aid office, local high school guidance offices, and state education department offices. Students can apply for federal student aid via the Internet by using FAFSA on the Web. FAFSA on the Web can be accessed at

Don’t allow financial barriers to stop you from pursuing your dreams of an accounting degree. Between accounting scholarships and other financial aid for accounting degrees, you will find the help you need to make your dreams reality. Work with your admissions counselor, fill out your forms carefully, and study hard!