How to Find and Apply for Government Grants, Loans and Financial Aid for College
College is Expensive
Let's face it, college is expensive and trying to find ways to help pay for it is intimidating and the resources out there are in the thousands. Searching for help may be one of the most tefious and important things you will endeavor when it comes down to it.
Don't wait until your child gets ready for college to start saving money for his/her education like we did. Unless you are fortunate enough to have put money aside, then you will be struggling like mad to put your child through school. Now it has come to the point of looking for grants and loans because you realized how much college is going to cost. There is help and there are monies available; you just have to find them and be dedicated to seaching.
Applying For College and Fees
You need to be prepared to pay for college applications, as I found out the hard way. After your child gets done sitting for an hour or two filling out an application online, they will come up to you asking for the credit card because you have to pay for the application fee of 50 to 100 dollars; that isn't with all Colleges, just most I have run into.
If you live on a fixed income or low income, most of the colleges have what they call an "application waiver." You just have to send them your income tax return from the previous year and an explanation of why you can't afford to pay the application. If you qualify with income limits, you won't have to pay the fee. After filling out applications for 6 different colleges, it can become your worst nightmare coming up with the money.
College Acceptance Letters And What To Do Now
Getting Acceptance Letter- Reality Hits
Getting a college acceptance letter is probably the biggest accomplishment or moment of your life. You have watched your child start from kindergarten and grow into this adult that is now starting their future. This may help you out a little to know what to do when you start getting the acceptance letters.
You wait for those long 2 months or so and you finally get the college acceptance letter(s). Now everyone is thrilled, excited and calling all the family and friends telling them of the good news that your child has been accepted into college and how proud you are.
After a few days of excitement, you realize that you didn't think of how you were going to pay for it when people started asking questions now did ya? Ah ha! Now you've done it. You've called everyone in their brother telling them your kid is going to Harvard. Your kid gets on Facebook and tells everyone (because he got so excited he changed his profile to Public). They get all the status updates of great, good news, good for you.
Applying For The Grants and Loans
This process alone, is over-whelming. Here are a few things that may happen to help alleviate some of the costs of college. Your child should be bringing home some papers from the high school regardingr scholarships a few weeks before graduation. Make sure to save the paper and fill out every one of the scholarships and grants that they bring home. .
What You Need To Do To Apply For The Federal Grants and Scholarships
Here are some reputable and trustworthy websites to look at. Here are the first steps you need to take before you do anything.
After you have done your taxes-(some tax preps have this already in the app) You have to fill out FAFSA- If the tax prep place doesn't offer it, go to the website directly. You can find that Here *** Please pay attention to this *** This is FREE and there is another website that is named www.fafsa.com - They charge you and I almost got taken. The original FAFSA website is through the government!!! Heads UP
Wait for your FAFSA results to come back to see how much money or if you qualify for any grants or aid. Fafsa pretty much does it all for you. State grants, government grants, etc. They send the results to the Colleges you select on the form you fill out. The school then in turn will send you a financial assistance award. It takes a few weeks to get.
Also, on the financial assistance forms you get from the school, it will give you all the awards, scholarships and grants you are eligible for through the school as well. Let's say your child got really good grades and made high honors, if he has a high GPA then they have Presidential scholarships. There is University scholarships for 3.25, there are Achievement scholarships, etc. The award will have everything in it.
Government Loans- Stafford and Perkins
Stafford Loans - Funded By The Government
Information on government loans to help fill in the gap if after your grants and scholarships have been applied. This information will be in the financial award letter if you qualified for it. Those are Stafford Direct Loans. You do have to pay those back.
There are two kinds of Stafford Loans.
Subsidized Stafford- This means the Government will pay for the interest while you child is still in school and it won't accrue until after graduation or when they go to less than half-time status or quits.
Unsubsidized Stafford- This means you get the Government loan (regardless), but the interest accrues immediately when the loan is given.
The good part is, you don't have to start paying back any of the loans until 6 months after graduation, however; for those 4 years your child is in college, the interest will be accruing on the unsubsidized loan.
Perkins Loan-The Perkins loan is another loan offered through the school (if any monies are available from the school) This is a smaller loan usually and it is considered an unsubsidized loan. This loan is for students that really show financial need. Again, you have the option of paying back after graduating, however; the interest is accruing immediately along wtih the other Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
The other option you have is called a Parent Plus Loan. This loan is one that parents can take out for their child and is through the government, but you have to meet credit criteria.
- There are more Loans available and you can find them all on the student aid website I gave you up above.
Getting Extra Help To Pay For College After All The Financial Awards Are Given
How To Get More Scholarships and Grants For College
I received this information from the Fafsa website and also called them to get more information. I am not going to lie, the work is tedious and time consuming. I haven't heard back from any yet, but it's worth a shot. My son is doing it, but of course I have to help and it's stressful, but again, worth it if you can get just one to come back "You've won." Anyway, here are the places I've been and you need to check them out. Please be prepared to read thoroughly and I do mean thoroughly. I think they try and see who follows directions. It gets that critical. If it says 1" margins and double spaced, you better do it because I was told they just pitch them in the garbage.
Federal Student Aid And Grants Links
Fasfa on The Web This is where you can go to so you can file FAFSA as well. They have so much information here. It's not that user friendly though, just warning you, but this is a must go. If I remember correctly, you have to go here after you file for Fafsa anyway.
Scholarships.com I have found this through the Fafsa website and this site is great. Thousands and thousands of scholarships, however; you can narrow it down by your profile. The profile asks for test scores on ACT/SAT, Gpa's, interests, etc. My son applied for 4 of them already. Again, please read and follow their directions Exactly
I have just recently found this place, and I wish I would have found it first. This is more of a local area scholarship look up. So, instead of competing with the whole United States, I am competing more in a generalized area.r
College Essays and Taking The Time To Find Money For College
Writing essays and filling out the paper work to try and get a 500 dollar scholarship may sound like a waste of your time, however; if you can get 4 of those $500 scholarships, that's $2,000 and that can make a huge difference in a payment. A few things you really need to remember: This is the most important thing you will ever do for you, and for your child. Filling out all the grants and scholarships is very time consuming for you and your child, but any benefit he/she is eligible for- whether it be grants, student loans, government loans, scholarships, etc., they are available and you might as well try to get them. Don't feel bad if you can't pay for all of the college as college is expensive and we are looking at almost $30,000 to $40,000 a year and that doesn't even include books or room or board and no,he isn't going to Harvard.
Take the time to call around and prepare to spend every moment you have searching for scholarships and grants to help pay for school. Tracking down your kid to type up an essay by 10pm because you just found one he may be eligible for but the deadline is Midnight or has to be post-marked by the next day is not out of the realm. My son has done so many searches and has found band scholarships, short peoples scholarships, etc. They are out there believe it or not. Just look!
Hope you have enjoyed my write up and feel free to comment if you know something I don't. I am new to all this as well, and thought I would pass on some information if I could help you because I had no one to help me and it was a nightmar.
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