When thinking about how to pay for college education, the very first place to start is college grants and scholarships. Unlike student loans, grants and scholarships generally do not have to be repaid. There are billions of dollars in grants and scholarships available from hundreds of thousands of organizations, the key is to do your research and start early.
Grants are based on a combination of financial need and, in some cases, academic achievement. For example, the Federal Pell Grant offers up to $ 4,050 (for the 2006-07 school year) depending on your financial need and the cost of attending your school. Applying for the Pell Grant and other federal grants is done through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, which is a free financial aid form. Your FAFSA results, called the Student Aid Report (SAR), will let you know if you’re eligible for a Pell Grant, and for how much. Other grants monitored by the FAFSA include the Supplementary Education Grant, the National SMART Grant, and the Academic Competitiveness Grant.
Another source of education funds that does not have to be repaid is college scholarships. They are usually offered to students who meet specific requirements and are usually funded by private benefactors. While many scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit or financial need, not all are. Some scholarships are random designs, while others have requirements designed to focus on improving access to specific demographics, such as minorities or certain fields of study.
There are millions of need and merit-based scholarships worth over $ 10 billion. There are many websites listing scholarships – StudentScholarshipSearch.com currently has over $ 7 billion in scholarships available for visitors. In addition to the internet, meet with your high school guidance counselor who might have a list of local scholarship opportunities.
It is important to research these scholarships early as many require an application and / or an interview. Although you don’t apply to college until you’ve finished high school, start looking for scholarships in your second or second year. This will allow you to identify potential scholarships and give you time to meet all the qualification criteria. Be as specific as possible – the more targeted your research, the less competition you will have with other applicants and the more likely you are to stand out with the organization offering the scholarship. For more details on how to search effectively, read the free Scholarship Search Secrets eBook available at StudentScholarshipSearch.com.
Apply for as many college scholarships as possible – there is no limit and every dollar of scholarship you accumulate will limit your need for student loans. Many scholarships require you to submit an application and / or participate in an interview, so be sure to qualify for the scholarship before applying. Try to set a specific time each week to apply for at least two scholarships – every Sunday afternoon, for example. In a year, you will have applied for over 100 scholarships.
Another key fact that is often overlooked is that in the end what matters most is how much of the scholarship you received, whether it was a single $ 1000 scholarship or a $ 10 scholarship. scholarships of $ 100 each. Apply for large and small scholarships; the larger the scholarship, the more competition there is for it, so you may find in your research that applying for many smaller scholarships will increase your chances of getting money.
One final word of warning – make sure you avoid scholarship scams. Typical signs of scholarship scams include asking for very detailed personal information, such as a social security number or date of birth. Any scholarship that asks you to pay money of any amount is probably not legitimate. Rewards that require you to provide financial information such as bank account numbers or credit card numbers are almost certainly scams. Receiving a notification that you are a finalist for a scholarship you have never applied for is almost certainly a scam. Generally speaking, scholarship search services, while not necessarily scams, don’t offer value beyond what a search engine like Google can provide, so they’re generally not worth it. worth paying them. Above all, trust your instincts – if something sounds like a scam, it probably is.