Financial aid: It's like pizza

Editor's note: This column was provided by Rebecca Daughtry, a college and career coach, program specialist and self-professed financial aid nerd for Career Compass. 

One of the things I hear most in my work as a college and career coach is the frustration that students and families experience when they contemplate how to pay for college. For the sake of simplicity—something you rarely encounter in this topic—I want to first “simply” explain financial aid as a concept. Then, I’ll discuss different types of financial aid and how to access them.

Please bear with my analogy. Paying for college or any postsecondary training is like making or ordering a pizza. Did I just blow your mind? Both involve a bunch of options (Do I want pepperoni today? Should I go out-of-state?), and both require decisions to be made. Pizza and college go hand-in-hand, am I right?

The pizza crust is the foundation of the pizza, and here, represents cost (also known as COA: Cost of Attendance). The thickness of that crust indicates the level of affordability. Click here to see how the rest of the pie breaks down.

Let’s talk about the different types of scholarships available to you. There are basically three types of scholarship funding.

The first and your largest pool of funding comes from the college of your choice. They each have different rules for applying and deadlines. Those are typically listed individually on each college’s website. This requires even more patience and a bit of research. Still, totally worth it!

A second source of scholarship funding is your local scholarship offerings. The amounts of each scholarship may look smaller in comparison, but these organizations and/or businesses want to congratulate your hard work by helping you succeed. They have a vested interest in the success of their community’s students. Your school counselor usually has a list of local scholarship opportunities, and your Career Compass college & career coach does, too.

Lastly, you can also find scholarships available from various national organizations. You can access those through national scholarship search sites. Career Compass both sponsors specific scholarships and curates scholarship offerings from such sites and lists them on our website to ease your stress. Also, make sure you “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get updates.


If you don’t remember anything else, please remember these two things: (1) A Career Compass college & career coach is trained on this and other topics. PLEASE use your coach as a resource. (2) NEVER pay money to a company or person claiming to be a FAFSA or scholarship application expert. There are plenty of free, reputable resources out there to help you.


About Career Compass of Louisiana 

Career Compass is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving schools in more than half of Louisiana school districts. Its goal is to increase the number of students in Louisiana who attend a postsecondary institution upon high school graduation (technical, community and 4-year universities). Learn more at

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