Well-prepared high school students know that there are many scholarship options available to fund a college education. Paying for college is not an easy feat, and is accomplished by exploring all of the resources available, such as scholarships, grants, tax credits, and student loans. The best strategies are to apply early for the best financial aid from a college, as many awards are given on a first come, first-served basis. Also apply often, as your chances of earning scholarships increases and you will not have to borrow/pay as much money.
Avoiding Student Loans
The best scholarships come at no cost to you. Money that you do not have to pay back, such as scholarships and grants are expected of most financial aid packages. Students that have the most financial need are usually strong candidates for federal grants, and even those with minor financial need will find that they are eligible for dozens of scholarships if they conduct a free scholarship search.
Starting anytime in high school, preferably by the time you start the college application process, you can fill out a profile in a few minutes and receive a customized list of scholarship opportunities based on the information you’ve provided. From there, you’ll have access to detailed scholarship information for each competition, as well as the resources (contact info, request forms, etc.) necessary for the scholarship. Incoming college freshmen should limit borrowing as much as possible, and try to find funding in the form of scholarships and grants. While student loans are often necessary, especially if you’re attending a private four-year university with high tuition costs, they should be a last resort.
Keep Your Options Open
If you have receieved the last of your scholarship awards and grant funding, and you are still worried about finances, after taking out student loans, consider working a part-time job so that you’re not running up debt to pay for cost of living expenses. Also consider attending a community college where tuition costs are more than half the cost of most major universities. Living at home is also a smart option, since room and board costs can add up to several thousands of dollars. Even taking your general education requirements at a community college and then transferring to a four-year college could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Review our Financial Aid section for more information about the process of funding your college education. Below are some of our must-visit pages that will help you prepare yourself for college using Scholarships.com’s free service:
Free College Scholarship Search
Free money for college. What’s better than free money?
Free College Search
Learn about your schools of interest by visiting this helpful resource for finding the right school for you. You can quick-search by state, enter partial or full college names, search by major or any combination of the three.
Federal Stafford Loans
Stafford loans are something you will want to learn about, just in case you don’t get enough scholarships to pay for your entire education.
Federal PLUS Loans
PLUS loans are after Stafford Loans. Get all you can in Stafford Loans first before asking your parents for help so you can avoid taking out pricey private loans.
Free Financial Aid Resources & More
Check out our free resources by clicking the “Free Financial Aid Resources” link above. These resources will help make your transition from high school to college easy.