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Tips for Students: Hunting for College Money

It's Never Too Early
The sooner you start looking for money for college and begin filling out applications and forms, the better off you'll be. No question. If you and your parents file taxes early in the year, instead of waiting until April, you'll have the most up-to-date information about the state of your family's finances for the FAFSA and PROFILE forms. Writing scholarship essays early will let you be more relaxed and will give you time to have your mom, your little brother, your English teacher, and anyone else who's willing read them over and make them better. Some scholarships also have early deadlines, and you don't want to miss out on extra cash just because you didn't find out about it in time.

You should start learning about all of the available financial aid options during your junior year and be ready to write your scholarship essays and submit applications by the first semester of your senior year. It's not a bad idea to write a few scholarship essays during the summer after your junior year, and if you're working on your college essays at the same time, you can probably reuse some of the material. You'll fill out your FAFSA and PROFILE forms at the beginning of your second semester senior year, and you'll get your financial aid offers around the same time as your college acceptance letters in the spring.

As long as you're starting early, check in with students who graduated the year before you. Find out who won the biggest scholarships and ask them for advice and perhaps even to look over your essay. Not everyone will want to help, but it can't hurt to ask, and any advice you can get is useful.


From Getting through College without Going Broke by Students Helping Students®. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, go to Amazon.

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