Are you looking for a student loan, a college grant or some other form of financial aid? Money for college is within your reach if you do your homework and learn how to conduct a scholarship search.
Student financial aid exists in many forms. Your first step to finding money for college is to ask yourself in what ways you might qualify for financial aid. Does your academic record qualify you for student financial aid based on merit? Perhaps you are a talented athlete who can find money for college through an athletic scholarship. Or maybe your family's finances puts you in financial lead that qualifies you for a college loan or education grant.
Your options are numerous. Student loans. Federal student loans. Grants. Maybe one of your parents works for a company that offers college financial aid to dependents of employees. Perhaps your church or community offers financial aid for which you could apply.
It's important to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you begin your scholarship search. You can gather more financial aid information about FAFSA and complete the necessary documents online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. The FAFSA helps to determine if you qualify for federal financial aid. If it is determined that you qualify for federal financial aid, the FAFSA goes a long way toward finding financial aid for you.
When you start your scholarship search, just remember that there is no such thing as applying for too many federal scholarships, college loans or college grants. The more applications you submit, the greater your chance of securing money for college.
Be prepared but don't psyche yourself out
Anyone who has a desire to learn and a will to find money for college can attend an institution of higher learning. Being prepared is your best insurance in the search for student financial aid.
College is going to expose you to all sorts of subjects and people. It's important that before you even begin your scholarship search you spend time becoming the most well-rounded person you can be. It's important to scholarship committees and others who decide if you get money for college. You need to have hobbies you are passionate about. You need to have cares in the world and a sense of purpose. What are your goals? Aim high and you'll find that elusive money for college.
Character and diversity alone do not a scholarship produce. You will be severely tested, literally, when you begin your quest for higher education and, of course, your search for money for college. It's therefore important that you study for admission tests as much as you can. Start by identifying weak points (math? science? English?) and immerse yourself in the study of these painful subjects. Success comes slowly, your college scholarship will come with time and hard work.
The early bird gets the money for college! If you start applying for student loans for college grants in January, you will be too late for most deadlines. Start getting yourself aligned for a scholarship search now so you can rest easy about finding money for college!
Student Loans, Federal Loans and College Grants, oh, my!
Just like college students, financial aid comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are based on your financial need, while others reward you for allegiance to a group or for talent in a certain aspect of your life.
Your quest to find money for college will be more likely to succeed if you first understand the various kinds of financial aid that is available for college students today.
Ability-based scholarships are financial aid packages that reward for some talent you possess such as painting murals or acting on stage. This type of financial aid is also awarded based on your financial need.
Academic merit scholarships are awarded to students whose good grades and high test scores put them at the top of their class or, at least, at the top of the list of scholarship applicants.
Athletic scholarships are awarded to good athletes who excel in at least one sport and who manage to balance academic and athletic concerns.
Company-sponsored scholarships generally are offered to the children of employees of the sponsoring company. This form of student financial aid proves valuable to students who are going to be studying a career that is in the company's interest. For instant, if you father works for Southwestern Bell, the company might give you money for college or a college scholarship if you are going to study telecommunications and information technology management in school.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as we mentioned earlier, helps to determine your financial aid need. Based on your application, FAFSA determines the amount of money for college that you are eligible to receive.
National Merit Scholarships are awarded by the non-profit Merit Scholarship Corporation
and goes to nearly five thousand students each year. To earn this scholarship, you must make a superior showing in the following areas -- a competition of test scores, academic and extra curricular activities and school recommendations. You can enter this competition by taking your Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in the fall of your junior year in high school.
Organization-sponsored scholarships are offered by civic and community organizations and offer financial assistance to members of such groups as Boy Scouts, the Girls Scouts, the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce.
Professional scholarships are provided by professional, career and trade associations. You can go to a library and ask for a directory that lists the scholarships and loans offered by such associations in your particular field of study.
Work study is a form of federal financial aid that compensates recipients for work done on campus as part of the work program.
Ethnic and religious scholarships reward outstanding students who belong to that particular ethnic background.
Transfer student scholarships provide transfer students with good grades to gain money for college.
Alumni legacy scholarships benefit colleges that also grant alumni legacy scholarships.
Find financial aid information online
Sure, competition is high, but you can find money for college, whether a student loan, college grant or college scholarship, if you know where to look and allow yourself enough time.
The fastest and most effective way for finding money for college is to take your scholarship search online.
There are numerous scholarship and financial aid sites out there. Do your due diligence. Make sure the site has been updated recently as financial aid information and availability changes all the time.
Free online scholarship search - Find a scholarship
Absolutely Scholarships is a robust financial aid search engine that always you to search a database of more than 200,000 scholarships for the financial aid that is right for you.
CASHE for Your Education is a free scholarship database sponsored by student loan provider Sallie Mae.
College Board Online Scholarship Search offers more than $3 billion in financial aid.
FastAid is a free scholarship search service for college students and their families.
FastWeb is a provider of free scholarship searches.
Student Advantage Scholarship Search enables you to enter your zip code and find scholarship opportunities.
Scholarships.com enables you to search for money for college in what is boasted to be the largest scholarship search site on the net.
WiredScholars Scholarship Search searches more than 600,000 scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, fellowships and internships and looks for good fits with your situation.
How to avoid and report scholarship scams
Thousands of scholarship opportunities await you, but hidden among the legitimate offers of educational assistance are scholarship scams that seek to take money from you.
A good rule of thumb: If you have to pay money to get money, it's probably a scam.
Beyond that, be wary of scholarships with an application fee, scholarship matching services who guarantee success, advance-fee loan scams and sales pitches disguised as financial aid "seminars".
Every year, thousands of unsuspecting families fall prey to fraudulent scholarship companies that pose as legitimate scholarship sponsors, foundations, or search services. These scam artists hook you in by promising "free money for college" or other similar "too-good-to-be-true" tag lines.
Be wary. These scams are usually advertised in campus newspapers, flyers, direct mail, and on the Web.
If you suspect you have encountered or been victimized by a scholarship scam, we encourage you to take action. You should immediately write a letter sharing your experience and relaying details of your suspicions to:
National Fraud Information Center
P.O. Box 65868
Washington, DC 20035
So, there you have it. An overview to finding the money for college, whether a loan, grant or scholarship, that will put you on track for a great education.