Bringing to close our series on “Free Money for College and Where to Find It” we have some last word of wisdom.
Tips for when applying:
Continuously look for new postings! Never stop looking for new opportunities! New things are always being posted, and the best way to maximize your chances of earning some of these awards is to research and apply for them as early as possible!
Fill out the FAFSA anyway! So, you may not want any Federal grants, however, some other, non-federal grants require that you apply for financial aid to be eligible. Just because you apply for financial aid, even if offered awards, does not mean that you have to accept them.
Check with your institution’s Financial Aid Office opportunities! Many colleges and universities offer their own campus scholarships and awards for those who qualify
Remember deadlines! Time flies as we all know, and you do not want to miss out on an opportunity to help fund your education because you mixed up certain dates. Some applications will be due in January, others will have a deadline set for July. Be sure to make every effort to submit your application on time!
Ensure that you meet the qualifications! Some grants and scholarships may require individuals to meet certain specifications in order to be eligible for the award. If it states that a student must be enrolled full-time, and you are enrolled only part-time, save yourself the time and look for another opportunity that you qualify for.
Thoroughly complete application and include needed documents! When filling out information on the application, double check to make sure all information provided is correct, especially contact info like phone numbers and email addresses. In addition to the application, you may be asked to submit transcripts, recommendation letters, or a personal letter. You could be asked to provide one, or all three. Know what is needed so you’ll be prepared!
Beware of scams! Sadly, scams are everywhere, and everyone is a target. Individual safety, especially online, is of high importance and personal information getting in the wrong hands can be detrimental. Take heed to which websites you’re searching on, and never give out highly personal info, like a Social Security number, especially if the site looks sketchy, has many typos and misspellings, or asks for money. You should never be asked to pay to apply or receive a grant or scholarship, ever.
Being that most grants are need-based, if searching for funds based on merit, scholarships may be the best way to go. Scholarships, just like grants, do not have to be repaid. There are so many grants and scholarships out there that one may get overwhelmed when doing a basic Google search, but luckily, there are quite a few sites that are legitimate and simplify the process tremendously by allowing searchers to filter the results to better find matches.
Listed below are a few sites to visit to find scholarships, grants, and other financial aid award opportunities:
CareerOneStop.org – Website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor which allows you to search for thousands of scholarship, fellowships and grants. Narrow search by keyword, and filter by award type, locations and level of study. This site also offers other career-oriented resources.
Discover.com – Not just about credit cards, the Discover.com site has a section dedicated to paying for college that includes a free scholarship search tool and scholarship directory that separates scholarships into categories such as interests and hobbies, field of study and state of residence.
Peterson’s.com – Trusted source of scholarship listings with the assistance of filters to narrow results. Peterson’s also includes information on preparing for college, with resources for college admissions and textbooks.
Keep searching and be patient. Best of luck!