College Money: How to Get It
The sticker price for most colleges and universities is just that: a suggested amount that you will pay for the upcoming academic year. In reality, few college students pay the full rate, with many able to reduce their costs through student aid, college scholarships and work programs. College money is typically not given directly to the student. Instead, those funds are usually credited against the total cost of a student’s education, including tuition, room and books.
1. Go FAFSA. Every college student should make use of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for Pell and other grants, and federal student loans. FAFSA also makes it possible for you to apply for a college-work study program, yet another way that you can reduce your college costs. Financial aid for FAFSA is determined by your personal and parental financial situation and will result in a Student Aid Report (SAR) outlining your costs.
2. Apply for College Scholarships. You can apply for college scholarships year round or as long as a scholarship is being offered. High
school seniors are not the only ones to win scholarships. Many scholarships are offered to current college students and cover their undergraduate studies, sometimes beyond. Scholarships are available through your college, via foundations, from nonprofit organizations, and by
businesses. Billions of dollars in scholarships are awarded annually, but only to those that apply and are accepted.
3. Visit your Financial Aid Department. Students that are already enrolled in college may find that their funds are not sufficient to help them continue with their education. The last thing your college wants for you to do is to drop out, therefore make your struggle known
to the people that might be able to offer assistance. Your college’s financial aid department is an excellent place to start, working with you to create a sensible plan to continue your education.
4. Inquire About Fellowships. Grad students have a special option that can yield support for their education. Graduate fellowships can
cover tuition and provide a stipend, often for multiple years. Fellowships are highly competitive and require that the student to write a thoughtful, concise and smart essay for consideration. Like grant writing, applying for a fellowship requires careful deliberation on what you will say and a proposal outlining what area of research you want to investigate. A professor or your college advisor can offer assistance by helping you identify a topic or by providing guidance as you write your proposal.
College Financial Considerations
College students that do not qualify for aid or are unable to secure enough aid to cover their expenses may also consider working their way through college. This can be done by working full-time and attending classes on the side, or by carrying the minimum 12 credit load and working 25 to 30 hours per week. Either option stretches out the college completion process, but it also may help the student stay on track and to leave college without the burden of student loan debt.