The process of planning and saving for a college education should begin as early as possible, since the demand and competition for financial aid is great. It is better to learn what options you have now and begin figuring college expenses into your long term financial plan. In planning for college it may be a good idea to sit down with your accountant, financial advisor, banker or insurance agent to assess your child's pending long-term educational needs. Aside from investing and saving money for your child's education, there are financial aid programs available to help pay for this expense. Financial aid is generally divided into three catagories: grants and scholarships, consist of money that does not have to be repayed. Some of these are awarded on the basis of academic ability or talent while others require that your child perform some sort of service. Loans are available from a wide range of sources of money, these loans to you or your child must be paid over a prearranged time period. Work-study: Most colleges usually have a need for full or part-time employees to help in various positions on campus. Upon acknowledging your child's need the financial aid office may arrange for the student to fill a position to work in one of these roles. Generally, all college financial assistance is based on need. Financial aid services, used by colleges and universities, have a standard formula to determine whether you and your children qualify for various forms of assistance. The forms that you fill out representr the beginning of the process of determining whether your child is eligible for financial iad. Get an early start, informaiton on the federal aid progrmas can be obtained in several different ways. The best way is to ask your high school's guidance counselor or contact your State Education Department for state and local aid. This information is general in nature, and is not a reliabilty report on any paticular company.