With good planning, you can find scholarships to pay for your entire college education. The good news is that you do not necessarily have to be a genius with a 4.0 GPA or the star player of your soccer team. Here are 7 secrets to getting money for college from Kristina Ellis, who received over $500,000 in scholarship and grant money to cover both her undergrad and grad college costs.
- Start Planning Now – If you know you want to go to college, start planning for it now. The earlier, the better. Start with researching available scholarships and their requirements so you can create a strategic plan to follow through while you are still in high school.
- Get Involved – Get involved with your community by volunteering and participating in extracurricular activities. Look for volunteer opportunities at your local hospital, library or senior center. Try out for your schools’ sport teams or audition for the band or musical theatre group.
- Apply for Financial Aid – Even if you think you may not qualify, apply for financial aid anyways. Start with completing your FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, which helps prospective students get aid and loan assistance based on their individual needs.
- Consider Private Schools – It may be cheaper to go to a private school for students with more financial need. In fact, some schools have a no-loan financial need policy to help low-income families pay for anything outside of your expected family contribution. Consider donor grants you can apply for as well.
- Make your Financial Aid Officer your BFF – Your FA officer manages scholarships, grants, loans and work-study and they can pull strings for you. Be prepared when asking your financial officer questions. Do research and always bring in the necessary documents.
- Look Beyond the Ordinary – There are scholarships out there for people with unique skill sets and hobbies. Research non-ordinary scholarship opportunities and find one for a characteristic or skill you have. Ellis recommends fastweb.com and Scholarships.com to find lists of available scholarships.
- Local Scholarships – Contact local churches, civic organizations and businesses to see if they offer any scholarships to local students. Your guidance counselor may have information but if not, pick up the phone and call! What do you have to lose?
The truth is that with hard work, dedication and strategic planning, you could essentially go to school for free! Start your search now to find scholarships and plan for your college education. Start your school search here on www.americolleges.com!