The College-Bound Shakedown: Affording Education
Need help finding scholarships?

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are some of the best kind of money you'll ever "earn." You not only don't have to be pay back scholarships, but you're being rewarded for something-whether it's a talent, an achievement, or a unique characteristic.

The hardest part about scholarships is finding them and applying for them. Click here to learn about two types of grants.

Watch out for scholarship scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that, you may become prey for scholarship scam artists. Check the FTC site for its "tell-tale lines" that are the signs of a scam. Look for scholarships using trusted sources and organizations. Scams aren't the only scholarship offers you should avoid.

Start to search early for scholarships, preferably in your sophomore year of high school, to identify potential scholarships that you may be eligible for. Think about activities and talents that could get you a scholarship, such as community service, hobbies, musical talent, creative writing, academic achievement, SAT and ACT scores, and athletics.

With the help of your school counselor, parents, and university financial aid officers, you can apply for the scholarships you're more likely to receive and avoid potential scams.


Use the College Savings Calculator to stay on track.

Work-study involves students working on or off campus and using that money to pay for school expenses.

The amount of hours you can work per week will depend on the amount of your award and what your pay per hour is.

Tax incentives

A tax credit allows your parents to subtract dollar for dollar the amount of the credit from their total income tax amount. This helps lower the cost of higher education. The two tax credits that help toward tuition costs are the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

Both of these tax credits have restrictions on your family's modified adjusted gross income. Also, you can't use both of the credits in the same year. Click here to compare tax credits.Check out Pave: An alternative to costly college loans.

Family circumstances

Your family's income plays a huge role in how much financial aid you can receive. The FAFSA looks at the previous year's taxes. Watch out—it may not look at what has happened in the first couple months of the year.

In addition to missing the first few months of the year, the FAFSA doesn't take into account job loss, a death in the family, or other circumstances.

If something has happened to your family that will affect how, and if, you're able to pay for school, write a letter to the financial aid administrators of the schools you're applying to and explain the circumstances. They generally will take that into account when they review your financial situation and develop your financial-aid package.

Make the effort

Now that you know more about paying for school, you know that it will take some effort to look for money.But, if someone tells you that you can't go to school because of finances, they're wrong!

The money is out there. You just have to look for it and ask.

True or False: Benjamin Franklin's idea for the bifocal lenses came when he was eating dinner. Click Ben's head for the answer.
TRUE: While eating dinner, Franklin noticed he could see the food in front of him but not the person across the table from him. With the bifocal, he could use one pair of glasses for two purposes.

Madison, WI
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"This information was really helpful for me because I am graduating high school this year and am attending college in the fall...great tips!!"
Brittani, 18, San Marcos , TX

"This is great for college Juniors and Seniors. It points out a lot of great information that most people don't know about, and it can help you avoid being in a great deal of debt!"
Rakhee Patel, 17, Seffner, FL

"Through my brother's experience with paying for college I strongly agree with the information presented in this story. Although college itself may not seem to be the scary part paying for it could be. Through the experience of writing out checks for college my brother has realized that off campus housing is actually cheaper than on campus. This is also depending on how close your apartment is and the climate of where you live but there are options to save money while at school."
Derek, 17, Manitowoc, WI

"The investment calculator is very helpful. It makes sure your financial expectations are reasonable."
Eloise, 17, Madison, WI

"Hey Mitzie! I did some research and found out that for FAFSA purposes, you cannot claim yourself as an independent. Unless you are 24 years of age, married with kids or a war veteran, you must provide information from your parents. You will need to provide information from at least one of your parentsí tax returns. The financial aid office I talked to suggested that you get your motherís because you would have a higher probability of getting more financial aid, especially grants, which donít need to be paid back, versus loans, which you will need to pay back. Here is a site to check out that gives a lot of information about the FAFSA and how to go about filling the form out: http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/student_guide/index.html. I would also highly suggest talking to your guidance counselor about your options. You should also call the schools you plan to apply to and talk to their financial aid office. They should be able to help you with all your questions. But don't be discouraged!! Hope this helps!"
KelseyB, 21, Madison, WI

"I'm a 17 year old and I live with my sister, she does not have guardianship so therefore i can not claim her income and also my parents are divorced and i do not have contact with my father while my mother lives in honolulu and collects disability, I'm having an extremely hard time filling out my FAFSA. I currently pay for all my needs and a teacher of mine says that I should claim independent but how do I do that? HELP!"
Mitzie, 17, Mountain Home, ID

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