Doing so will determine your Expected Family Contribution or EFC, based on your family income and assets. The EFC is how much of your family's resources is considered "available" to pay for college costs. If the anticipated cost of attendance is greater than your EFC, you will most likely qualify for financial aid. The amount and type of aid you are awarded will vary for each school, however, since costs are different.
It's a good idea to contact the financial aid offices of your choice schools in advance to see what aid is available, learn about any upcoming scholarship or grant deadlines, and ask about work-study programs. Once your financial need is determined, each college that accepts you will offer a financial aid package, which may include a combination of any or all of the following: scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.
Both grants and scholarships are considered gift aid or free money, meaning they typically do not have to be repaid. Grants can come from federal or state government entities as well as from individual colleges. Scholarships are usually awarded by schools or private organizations based on merit, special circumstances, or other criteria.