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How to Apply for Financial Aid

Updated on February 17, 2022
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I have a bachelor's in finance. I am a stay-at-home mom, but my husband likes to call me the CFO (chief financial officer) of our household.

How To Apply For Financial Aid

Student Aid For College

So you or your child are getting ready to go to college, but you are not sure how where to look for financial aid. This article will cover where you can find financial aid so you will not have such a huge bill when you are paying for college afterwards.

I was able to cut my college bill in half with the help of pell grants and school's financial aid office helped my find loans to help me pay for the rest. That's a big savings of over $20,000 since I went to a large University. I was able to get a college education for almost free with the help of the GI Bill, Grants and a few small student loans!

Air Force Emblem


G.I. Bill

If you would like to get your degree for free, join the military! I joined the United States Air Force for four years. During that time, I was able to take classes after work. The credits from those classes went towards my Bachelor's Degree.

I also received an Associates degree during my term since my military training (Basic Training and Technical School) credits counted towards a degree also.

Visit this site for more information:

College Level Examination Program or CLEP

If you believe you are proficient in a basic class, you could CLEP it for free! Most colleges accept CLEP credits towards your degree. A CLEP test, or College Level Examination Program, is like the final exam for a college class. If you pass it, you get credits for the class without ever paying for the class.

A great site to visit for more information on CLEP tests is:

Financial Aid Office

Once you have chosen a college, go to the financial aid office. You will save thousands of dollars off of your college tuition just by visiting this office and filling out the paperwork. They will have applications for scholarships and grants that your chosen college will accept.

Applying for aid can take an hour or two, but you will have saved thousands of dollars by taking this step. You will need to fill out a new financial aid form each year to show that you are still attending college and to give them any new information. They will also find new scholarships and grants that you can take advantage of.


Your financial aid office will normally tell you to fill out a FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can do this at the financial aid office or from the comfort of your home. You can fill it in over the internet and send it back in with the click of a button. This form takes an hour or so to fill out, but it is well worth it. This is where I saved the most money!

They ask for a lot of private information. It's almost like filling out an income tax form. Make sure you fill it out and send in your FAFSA on time. If I only did one thing, this would be it!

Pell Grants

A Pell Grants is free money to pay toward your college tuition. When you submit your FAFSA, you will get a notification back letting you know which pell grants, scholarships and student loans you are eligible for. First, look at the amount they are giving as grants. This is free money that you do not have to pay back. The lower your income is, the more pell grant money you will usually get.

Government Student Loan

Next, look at the amount you will receive from Government Student Loans. You will want to use this towards any college tuition that is left over after the pell grants. Try to only take what you need to cover your tuition. You could take the full amount of the loans and spend the extra money during your school year, but this is not a wise choice. You will be paying it back for years longer if you take the whole loan.


When you receive the results from your FAFSA, it will also show if you are eligible for any scholarships. I would recommend trying out for as many scholarships as you are eligible for. The more scholarships you receive, the less money you will have to pay back later.

Most scholarships may ask for you to submit a letter about why you believe you deserve the scholarship or something along those lines. This is free money, so I definitely recommend submitting applications for each scholarship. It can only help when you are paying for college later!

Sign Up For Financial Aid!


Financial Aid Poll

How Much Money Did You Save On Your College Education With Financial Aid?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Melanie Casey


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