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Tips for Students: Hunting for College Money

Treasure Hunting
"I never thought that the local fireman's union would offer a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating senior in our high school . . . until I got it. I wish I'd checked out more resources rather than just focusing on national scholarships."

– Recent Grad, Wesleyan University

There are so many places to find money for college, and you should make sure you consider them all. Big or small, local or national, you should check into every resource. The billions of dollars given out in financial aid each year can help you pay for college, but they won't come looking for you.

Look everywhere. For example, your parents' employers might offer tuition benefits. The local business owners' association may have a scholarship for students planning to study business. The armed forces offer several options for students, including the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, which pays for tuition, fees, and books, and gives you a monthly allowance in exchange for a service commitment. There are tons of essay contests that are based on a certain topic or a book – even if the particular topic is not one you know a lot about, do some research, read the book, and write the essay.

A great place to visit to check into the many sources of aid for college is www.finaid.com. It has clear explanations of every potential source, as well as links to scholarship search engines, specific programs, and government offices.

Deadlines Rule
"Be sure to read college publications for the DUE DATE of application materials for financial aid. The money awarded, especially at private institutions, is limited and late filers can be denied simply because they failed to meet required deadlines."

– Financial Aid Advisor, Lehigh University

Can you imagine anything worse than going through all the work of writing essays and filling out applications only to miss a deadline? Everything has a deadline, from the FAFSA to individual scholarship applications. To keep them all straight, write them down on your calendar or in your organizer that you regularly use.

And here's a little cheat technique that we've found works really well – if an application is due on March 1, mark it down as due on February 15 so that you remember to send it out and get it there before the deadline. Every time you learn about a new scholarship that you plan to apply for, mark the due date in your calendar. Make sure that you know whether the due date is when your application must be postmarked or actually received. And never, ever, ever wait until the day before the deadline to submit your application – you never know what might happen to it in the postal service maze. Deadlines also change from year to year, so don't use last year's due dates, thinking they are the same as this year's.

<< Previous: The loan maze

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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