Worried about College Costs? Tips for Finding Scholarships and Applying for Financial Aid

With the ongoing problems in the economy, it is no wonder that families are becoming increasingly nervous about the cost of college, even if their own jobs and future seem secure. Here are some resources and links for finding scholarships and applying for financial aid.

1. Scholarship search engines. The following search engines require that students complete a questionnaire about their grades and test scores, college and career interests, extracurricular activities and even their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Based on the responses, the student will regularly receive announcements about scholarship opportunities that are in line with their profile.

Most of the scholarships require a short essay. This is another reason that students should save the papers and essays that they write for their high school courses — and even their college application essays. Often, students can edit a piece they have previously written to fit the scholarship requirement.

Be sure you register only for free search engines such as those that follow. (Avoid any that charge a fee).

FastWeb Scholarships
Scholarships.com
College Board

Remember, you can begin applying for college scholarships as early as freshman year in high school.

2. FinAid is another great online link with lots of information about paying for college including scholarships, loans and financial aid calculators that help you understand if you might be eligible for financial aid or how to evaluate loans.

3. Your high school’s college or guidance counselor. Most high schools have their own scholarships and some of these require an application. Counselors often have books and directories of scholarships based in the community, region or state so be sure to make an appointment and ask.

4. Financial Aid Links. Most colleges require students to complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) which can be found on the web at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Remember that even if a family is not deemed eligible for need-based aid (based on income), there might be a possibility of securing either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan. Some private colleges require the CSS Profile form to be completed.

5. MEFA. A good resource for Massachusetts residents is the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) with a wealth of information about loans for private schools, college, graduate schools and more.

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