How to Get Free Money for College
Getting a college degree gives you the tools to enter a rewarding career. To go to college, you need to have money to afford the high costs of tuition and books.
The next best thing to having your own money is to find free money for college in the form of grants and scholarships. Not only can you use grant and scholarship money to pay for your books and classes, but in many cases, grants and scholarships can also be used to help pay for living expenses as well.
This article features many of the options available to you that will help you pay for a college education and help you avoid having to apply for student loans.
Where to Look for Free Money for College
Actually finding grants and scholarships is half the battle. Most people who fail to get scholarship money don’t know where to apply for the help. Here are some resources to help you find scholarships and grants to apply for:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Also referred to as the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be found in most financial aid offices, or it can be filled out online. The FAFSA application makes one eligible for several grants, including the Pell Grant.
Fill this out as early as possible, because many schools run out of money for FAFSA sooner rather than later. The FASFA can be turned in as early as January 1 for the following school year.
FastWeb: FastWeb is one of the best-known websites for college students. You can look for colleges, find scholarships to apply for, and read articles explaining the finer points of college life.
They also offer an online discussion forum. Many of the topics being discussed on Fast Web include admissions, tests, financial aid and job hunting.
10kScholarship: This is another website that has tons of content about finding jobs, locating colleges and scholarships. They also offer a $10,000 scholarship contest on a regular basis.
Financial Aid Office: The financial aid office at your college can have information on special awards that are offered by your specific college. Sometimes these are for anyone who is in need, while other scholarships are directed towards an ethnicity or gender.
Grants and Scholarships
Grants are usually awarded based on a student’s needs, while scholarships are usually awarded based on a student’s accomplishments or merit. Some grants and scholarships are given based on ethnicity, gender, interests, hobbies, religion or achievements. Belonging to as many of these categories as possible can help you qualify for federal grant money for college.
Grants and scholarships are better than student loans, because you don’t have to pay them back. Getting out of college with $250,000 worth of debt hanging over your head can be a bummer. So here are some of the better grants and scholarships available:
- Federal Pell Grant: The Pell Grant is the biggest grant available. Students can receive as little as a couple hundred dollars or as much as several thousands per school year. Awards are based on what a student and/or his family can afford to pay for tuition, as well as what they make for income each year. The Pell Grant is available for part time and full time students.
- Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants: These grants pay out anywhere from $100 to $4,000. The FSEOG grants are reserved for the neediest of students.
- Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG): The ACG is for US citizens who are in their first or second year of undergraduate studies. Students receive $750 for the first year and $1,300 for the second year. Applicants are required to be full time students and eligible for the Pell Grant. 2nd year applicants will need to have maintained a 3.0 GPA over their first year.
- National SMART Grant: “SMART” stands for Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent. This grant is reserved for those majoring in either the mathematical or scientific science field, to encourage Americans to study in fields that we are sorely lacking in professionals. A few of the requirements include being eligible for the Pell Grant and maintaining a 3.0 GPA.
- TEACH Grant: The TEACH grant is the “Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education”. The TEACH grant is reserved for those who are working to become teachers. Awards range from $4,000 to $16,000 depending on your course of study.
- Military: As a part of the military, you can get up to 100% of your college education paid for. In some cases, you can even get previous school loans reimbursed, as well. Requirements and limitations vary based on which branch of the military you sign up for and your length of service. But it is possible to earn up to $250 per credit, up to $4,500 per year and an additional $1,000 per year for school supplies.
Getting Free Money for College
One of the most important free money tips to remember when looking for scholarships and grants is that you should never turn one down because of its size. Many students will turn a grant or scholarship down because it doesn’t fully pay for their needs. This is a big mistake.
Don’t limit yourself to one grant or scholarship. Apply for more than one and use all the ones you’re qualified to receive when paying for your tuition. Never turn down free money.
Aside from that, be sure to apply as early as possible to avoid being turned down. Wait, and your options will be limited.