financial-aid-process cropIf you’ve got a high school senior in your house, your family is likely deep in the college application process and wondering how to pay for it all as well. Navigating the various types of student loans and other financial aid can be confusing, especially if you’re going through it for the first time.

The Federal Student Aid Office at the Department of Education has created an infographic to explain the financial aid process. It shows the basic process of applying for federal student aid and the various types of financial aid available.

Don’t have a high school senior? The Federal Student Aid Office has also produced a college preparation checklist for families regardless of their age. The checklist provides a list of things that students should be doing in elementary school, middle school, and each grade in high school to prepare for college and that parents can do to afford it when their child graduates. The checklist also provides resources for students to explore interests and for parents to support their child’s education.

Finally, if your high school senior is going into education or and education-related field (e.g., school social work, school nurse, librarian), has a GPA of 3.0 or higher in a non-weighted 4.0 scale, and is graduating from an Illinois public school, be sure to apply for the Illinois PTA Scholarship. The application is completed online, and the deadline is February 15, 2015.