Paying for College
Financial aid for college is a hot topic these days. The administration has made it clear that both higher education and finding the money to pay for it are a top priority. Good timing, too, since career changes and the development of new skill sets always rise when the economy itself is shifting. Congress increased funds for the Pell Grant program— but most college programs cost more than the average Pell Grant. Where can students find the rest of the money they need?
Well, StudentAdvisor isn’t a college funding provider, but our financial aid resources may be able to help you with ideas about where and how to find grants and scholarships. Please read our new, free digital magazine on everything FAFSA
The Truth about Financial Aid
The reality about paying for school is that there is usually no one chunk of financial assistance that will cover all your education costs. For many students, the money required for tuition, fees, books, a computer, and other education-related charges will have to come from a combination of financial aid sources. With some tips on how to find grants and scholarships, however, you may be able to piece together the education funding you need without having to rely heavily on student loans.
FAFSA First for Federal Grants and Scholarships
The first thing you should do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA — as soon as possible. The FAFSA is the application required for both need-based and merit-based federal grants, including the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), the Teach Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, and the National SMART Grant. Once you successfully submit a FAFSA, your eligibility for a Pell Grant is determined automatically. If you qualify for one, you’ll be notified. It doesn’t matter how old you are; there is no age limit on Pell eligibility.
How to Find State Grants and Scholarships
The FAFSA is also required for getting financial aid from your state. Most states offer need-based and merit-based grants for college. Check your state higher education agency to find out which grant and scholarship programs you may qualify for.
Grants and Scholarships Databases
There are a number of free online databases for students wondering how to find grants and scholarships. One of the largest is the database maintained by the Department of Education. The grants and scholarships listed in this database are offered primarily by individual schools, private for-profit and nonprofit companies, charitable foundations, and similar institutions. Just enter keywords that are most relevant to you as a type of student or your planned course of study as a program type to see if there are education awards for which you may be eligible.
Watch Out for Grant and Scholarship Scams
Any grant or scholarship “service” that asks you for a fee in order to submit an application for you, who charges you for government information (which is free on the federal student aid site), or who tells you that they only need your credit card number or bank account number in order to process the grant or scholarship you’ve somehow already won (without even applying), is a service to stay away from! Read more about grant scams and scholarship scams.