In addition to exploring all of the federal options for college funding, you'll want to examine the funding options at the state level. All states distribute money for undergraduate and graduate studies each year. While the feds give away the most money, the states (taken as a whole) also award billions annually. In the paragraphs that follow, we'll look at state-based financial aid and how it can compliment and improve your financial aid future. 

By filing the FAFSA you are automatically considered for some state money. However, many state-sponsored funding opportunities will require separate applications. The number of opportunities will vary from state to state but every state, along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, offers a wide range of financial aid. 

As an example of the funding opportunities you'll encounter at the state level, listed below are just a smattering of the need-based and merit-based awards, grants and scholarships offered by or through the state of Delaware: 

Delaware Scholarship Incentive Program: This program awards up to $2,200 a year for Delaware residents attending college in Delaware or Pennsylvania. 

Diamond State Scholarship: Delaware students with exceptional academic records can receive over $1,000 per year for each year of school. 

Delaware Educational Benefits for Children of Deceased Veterans and Others: This award provides full tuition coverage for dependents of deceased Delaware veterans, state policy officers and Department of Transportation employees. 

Michael C. Ferguson Achievement Awards: Up to $1,000 for students who achieve high scores on the Delaware Student Testing Program. 

Agenda for Delaware Women Trailblazer Scholarship: Female residents attending college in state can receive $2,500 per year by demonstrating both financial need and leadership capabilities. 

First State Manufactured Housing Association Award: $2,000 is available for state residents who have lived in a manufactured home for at least one year. 

Delaware Nursing Incentive Program: Up to full tuition coverage for state residents studying to be an L.P.N. or R.N. 

The above awards should give you some idea of the diversity of funding opportunities available at the state level. To find out what's offered in your area, first contact your state's office of higher education. Your state will most likely have a financial aid website which will provide additional information. 

Also, be aware that state money is usually administered using a different methodology than used at the federal level. For example, states generally do not look at your assets when considering need-based aid. They consider only your earned income. So even if you've not qualified for federal need-based aid, you still might be eligible for state aid.

Lastly, you'll want to explore these state-based awards both in your state of residence as well as in the state your school is in (provided, of course, that they are different.) There might be money opportunities in both cases. And don't forget to keep a close eye on all of the different deadlines involved. These vary from state to state and you don't want to have your hard work go to waste.