There's no doubt; college is expensive and getting more so all the time. Fortunately, a lot of people and organizations want to help students pay for college.
First Steps to Getting Financial Aid
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after January 1. Get a copy of the form from your guidance counselor, library, or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. After you send in the FAFSA, the government will send you, and the colleges you apply to, your Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR explains how much aid you will need to go to college and your estimated family contribution (EFC), or how much you and your family will be expected to pay.
Talk to your guidance counselor and send in your FAFSA early in your college planning process.
Other sources of money for college include:
- private scholarships (such as those listed in this and other directories)
- scholarships from the college you attend
- work-study programs
- loans, and
- grants that may be offered by your or your parents' employers, unions, or civic and religious organizations.
Warning: Scholarship Scams
Most scholarship programs are legitimate. Regrettably, some are scams. Remember:
- Legitimate scholarships do not charge a fee to apply.
- They do not call on the phone or send an "award letter" out of the blue.
- They never ask for your credit card number.
- They do not offer a guarantee of an award.
- In short, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
- If you suspect a scholarship scam, tell your guidance counselor.