This is the second and final part of our series on The College Money Puzzle. In this episode, we focus on the fundamentals of financial aid and scholarships.
Mostly, this will give you the last two pieces of the puzzle to gain a thorough baseline understanding of all of the money factors with getting into and paying for college.
Financial aid can be awarded in the form of State Aid or Federal Aid. The most important first step is understanding that completing the FAFSA is the only way to find out if you qualify for any type of financial aid and even some institutional scholarships. Here are our best suggestions about money, financial aid and scholarships:
- Complete the FAFSA entirely, correctly and timely (or early starting in October 2016).
- Be consistent with your information from year to year. Your money situation may change for any number of reasons. If so, be honest and clear and provide supplemental documentation if necessary.
- Find out if the school(s) you are interested in are also requiring you to complete the CSS PROFILE. This is an additional financial form which asks more specific questions about assets, investments and household income or resources.
- The Common Application is a great way to say money by avoiding the additional application fees when applying to multiple schools. You pay one fee and apply up to about 10 schools at the same time (saves money) with only one or two essays to complete. Now high school juniors can create an account, save their data and update it when they are ready.
- The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application has more than 90 member colleges (most elite, private schools). Double check your colleges for which application they accept.
- The Common Black College Application is available for those that want to apply to HBCU (Historically Black College and University).
- For Scholarships, start early and local. There are many private foundation, local clubs and organizations that offer scholarships. Search where you live first.
- Have your student develop a close relationship with their guidance counselor who is often the gatekeeper in the high school when it comes to scholarships. They often recommend students for local scholarships for various reasons.
- Check with your employer, especially if you work in corporate that may offer scholarship money to the community and to the children of their employees.
- If you are not a member of a fraternal organization, I am sure you know someone who is. Minority Greek-letter organizations focus on education and offer scholarships to youth.
- Do a general search on the internet by topic (Math, Biology, English, etc…). Use a major search engine to narrow down the focus.
- Try not to disqualify your scholarship application by not filling it out completely, answer all of the questions.
- Do not go over the word count. Have someone else review the essay.
- Finally, commit to at least 1 hour each day or time on the weekend to search and complete scholarship applications. Act like it’s a PT JOB!
Links mentioned in this episode:
Also listen to our 4-Part FAFSA Series (Ep. 25- Ep. 28)
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