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.
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.
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.