What Are the Best Sources of Help with Financial Aid?

Dan Cavallari

A student hoping to attend college may need help with financial aid that will give him or her the money necessary to pay tuition fees as well as other expenses associated with an education. Fortunately, many resources are available to help with financial aid research and applications. A high school student should start with a visit to his or her guidance counselor, who can help explain the processes by which the student can secure financial aid. If the student is not currently enrolled in school, a visit to the college's financial aid department may open up some opportunities.

A student loan and financial aid application.
A student loan and financial aid application.

In the United States, a potential college student can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what kind of aid he or she is eligible for. Depending on the student's financial standing as well as a variety of other factors, he or she may be eligible for federal loans, grants, scholarships, and so on. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates than private loans, and they are often fixed rate loans. This is the first and perhaps most important step a student should take to get help with financial aid.

A high school guidance counselor could help a student find financial aid opportunities.
A high school guidance counselor could help a student find financial aid opportunities.

Local civic organizations are likely to sponsor scholarships and grants, so it is important for a potential student to seek out and apply for such opportunities. Many civic organizations will list scholarship opportunities on their websites or in local newspapers, so a student should begin to search these forums regularly. The amount of these grants and scholarships will vary significantly, so it is likely that a student will need to apply for several scholarships rather than just one. Visit the guidance department at a high school to get a list of these scholarships and grants, and ask the guidance department for help with financial aid applications as well.

Some low-income students may be eligible for free or reduced tuition at local educational institutions. Help with financial aid can be found by applying for such assistance; a visit to city hall may be a good start, and even if that is not the right place to get the applications you need, the staff there might be able to point you in the right direction. Be sure to inquire at the school you plan on attending for scholarship opportunities as well, as many schools will award scholarships and grants for exceptional students as well as students in need of financial assistance.

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