Scholarships and Grants
When you first start searching for financial aid, the task can appear overwhelming, just because of the over-abundance of opportunities out there – but, a multitude of opportunities is a great problem to have!
Scholarships, grants, competitions --- you name it! Once you begin your search, you’ll be amazed with what you find! There are so many varieties offered, it may seem hard to sort out all of the information. However, you can greatly simplify the process by understanding that almost all of the funds available fit into specific sub-groups, and once you can see the big picture – you’re on your way!
There are scholarships for high school seniors and general opportunities not limited to any specific major field of study, school, ethnic group or minority. Anyone can apply, and, based on grades and test scores, everyone is eligible.
Next, there are awards specific to certain major fields of study. It doesn’t matter which career path you’ve chosen -- you’ll find specific financial aid packages for everything, from Aeronautics to Zoology.
And, what if you are a member of an ethnic or gender specific minority? No problem! There are many, many scholarships out there for you to apply for. Do you live in a certain state, or are you in a particular year in college? Perhaps you have a parent or grandparent who served in the military. Then you might qualify for one of the many, many packages specifically offered to these groups. More and more adults are returning to school to study for their second career --- there are scholarships for them, too. There are grants and awards for single mothers, for specific ethnic groups who are underrepresented in certain career areas – there are even special scholarships based on your interests. Imagine being given money for college just for being tall, or short, or designing something made of a specific brand of duct tape.
Finally, where do you plan to attend school? Every university or college boasts grants, endowments and scholarships for their students. Once you’ve made your college decision, find out what they offer --- and apply!
The single most important fact to remember when applying for financial support for college is you need to apply, and apply often. It is quite feasible to apply for scholarships and grants in every area where you are qualified to do so. Competition is fierce, however, there are thousands of dollars that go un-awarded every year in all of these categories simply because no one applied for them.
Once you make your mind up to jump in, it’s all a matter of process: gather letters of recommendation; establish a history of high academic achievement and leadership ability; start contributing community service hours early on in your high school career; create well thought out essays, and get them critiqued by a teacher before you send them off. All of these items are parts of a well-rounded application packet, designed to impress a scholarship committee reviewing your application.
On this website, you will find numerous scholarship and grant opportunities. One -- or more – is waiting to make your career dream a reality!
Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) and the Student Aid Report (SAR)
All government grants, as well as numerous other scholarship opportunities, are based upon your need for financial assistance to continue your education. In order to substantiate your degree of need, you must complete a FAFSA application on line; and, your score --- SAR --- will be determined based on your answers. You will need to submit this information whenever you apply for a grant or scholarship that requires it. To find the application, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov. There is no charge for completing this process.
One of the best resources for financial aid information can be found on line at www.collegeboard.com. There you will find easily understood descriptions of various options you might use to pay for school. They also have an excellent Parents Guide to College that includes both aid and scholarship information. The site also has a needs calculator to help determine how much assistance you will require.
You would be amazed at the opportunities to study in another country – for a semester, for a summer, or for a year. This is an experience that will change your life – and the way you look at the world – forever. Check our Study Abroad section and find out about funding opportunities to immerse yourself in another language or culture. You’ll never regret it.
Learn how to avoid scholarship scams here.
There is actually an IRS site that provides complete information about federal programs giving tax benefits to students and their families to help defray the cost of higher education. The most common of these are Hope Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, Coverdell Education Savings Account (Education IRA), and the Student Loan Interest Deduction. For details, investigate IRS Publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf. Another tax credit program that can be worth up to $2,500 in tuition and other expenses allows you to claim them on your 2011 and 2012 tax returns. It is the American Opportunity Credit, and details can be found at www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=205674,00.html.
Learn more about Tax Credits.
Financial Aid Calculators
During the early planning stage, you and your family are going to need to sit down and calculate how much assistance you are going to need to attend school. Various sites provide tools to help you do just that.
The most commonly used yardstick of need is the Free Application – Federal Student Assistance, found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Upon completion you will receive a Student Aid Report that will estimate just how much federal assistance you and your family will be qualified for. More information may be found at www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov.
Again, the website, www.collegeboard.com provides excellent tools for calculating your expected family contribution (based on income and financial data) to loan repayment rates and time frames.
Some of the biggest financial questions can be answered – and their values calculated – by going to www.finaid.org/calculators/. Not only does this site provide easy how-to instructions for realistically estimating costs, in order to calculate just how much support will be required through scholarships and grants, it also explains how military programs can help and how tax credits and tuition payments plans work – even a savings vs. borrowing calculator.
At www.act.org/fane/ you can calculate estimated family contribution, but you can also see a rundown of anticipated expenses connected to attending college.
Graduate School Funding
If you are getting ready to enter graduate school, there are a number of financial assistance programs that are available to you that are not offered to underclassmen.
For instance – work your way through a teaching assistantship. To read more on this subject, check out www.gradschool.about.com/od/financialaid/Financial_Aid.htm.
If you are interested in federal funding for graduated school, the place to looks is studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/gradstudent.jsp.