How do I get Money for College?
It is no secret that the cost of attending college goes up a little more each year. For the family that does not have a lot of extra resources to devote to a child’s continuing education, this reality can be a frightful one. However, there are several ways to go about getting money for college and allowing you or your children to earn a degree and go on to a rewarding career.
Many families begin planning for college very early, sometimes even just after a child is born. This can involve something as simple as establishing a savings account at a local bank. Funds are contributed to the account from time to time by the parents, as well as other relatives. Once the child is old enough to begin receiving an allowance, the parents may urge the young person to contribute a percentage to the account. In later years, the adolescent may continue the process by depositing a portion of income earned from a part time job. By the time college rolls around, there are enough funds on hand to help the student get through at least one year of classes, and possibly more.
When this type of advance planning does not take place for some reason, there are still other options to consider. Scholarships of different types are very helpful in offsetting tuition, fees, and other costs associated with attending college. A student who is gifted in a particular course of study may be able to obtain an academic scholarship of some type, while students who are proficient in competitive sports may be eligible for a scholarship to help pay for college. High school and college counselors can often help students identify and apply for scholarships that help make money for college readily available.
Along with scholarships, there are also a number of grant programs functioning today. Many national and state governments provide educational grants of some type, such as the Pell Grant in the United States. Often, there are financial and academic qualifications that the student and the family must meet in order to receive the initial grant as well as continue the grant from one term to the next. As with scholarships, college and high school counselors can help with securing and filing the proper applications.
Another source of financial aid for school is private scholarship funds. Many houses of worship make funds available to students who are also members of the congregation. While there is usually a cap on the maximum amount, the congregation matches some other source of money for college the student has already secured. For example, if the student has received a $5,000 US Dollars (USD) scholarship or loan, the house of worship may provide a one-time grant of $2,000 USD to help with expenses not covered by the scholarship.
A student loan is sometimes the only means of securing money for college. Many of these loans do not have to be repaid until after the student graduates or leaves school for some reason. While the interest rates can be very high on loans of this type, they do make it possible for students to focus less on finances and more on getting an education.
There are a number of non-profit financial aid services that can help prospective students identify little-known scholarships and grants that could be options. In addition, the typical college financial aid office or department will often have details on a number of financing options that may be of interest. However, many of these options must be pursued at least several months before the beginning of the school term. Careful planning and timely investigation will make a big difference in obtaining money for college and having the chance to get a good start in life.
@ ValleyFiah - That is great advice, but don't forget about employer scholarships and tuition assistance. Many large companies offer some form of internal scholarship program or tuition assistance. Asking the human resources department or a manager can potentially net a student thousands of dollars in funding.
The government also has some special grant programs for certain high need majors. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students can qualify for a SMART grant that pays up to $4,000 in free money every year they are eligible. There are grant and forgivable loan programs for teachers, health care professionals and others. Information on these resources can be found at the U.S. Department of Education's student web portal (www.Studentaid.ed.gov). The two resources that I described should be any students first resource when looking for college funding.
There are plenty of private scholarships, contests, and grants out there for students. Many require that you fill out an application and submit letters of recommendation. Of those, most require some type of essay or creative medium. They range in amounts from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars. Using a scholarship search engine is a good way to find out about scholarships as well as fellowships, internships, and grants. Most private scholarships have their deadlines set up so students can write essays and gather any supporting documents over the winter or summer breaks. It can be tedious work, but the chances of winning smaller scholarships are good. I have only been applying for private scholarships for about a year and a half, but I have already won two and been a runner up in a third. Funding is attainable, but you will have to work to get it. A few hours of your time in exchange for a few thousand dollars are certainly worthwhile.
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