A B C D, E F G…

by Lyla Jeanne
(Traer, Iowa, U.S.A.)

Yep, you’re an adult now. You couldn’t wait. Yay! Welcome to the real world! Now get your butt in gear and get your finances in order.

A. Do not expect anyone to do this for you. This is the rest of your life. Don’t expect your parents to find and fill out scholarship opportunities. Don’t expect your guidance counselor to thrust applications into your grubby little paws. They are not “do it for you” counselors.

B. Do look at any and all available financial aid, beginning your freshman year . Many, many, many offers are NOT contingent upon your FAFSA! Waiting for your FAFSA before starting the process equals throwing away “free money”.

C. Speaking of ‘free money’, student loans offered as part of your financial aid package are definitely not free money. Loans look relatively small and hey, everyone else has a lot of student loans. Believe me, you do not want to start life with loans, burgeoning with mounting interest, hanging over your head. Guido & his knuckleheads won’t like that.

D. On the other hand, low interest loans are a viable option to no money. Getting your degree means the difference between low paying jobs and potential ‘the world is your oyster’ jobs. Student loans and/or independent bank loans are definitely preferable to the aforementioned Guido.

E. Again, don’t expect your parents to take charge. Odds are they do want you to have it all; they just don’t have the means. It’s not fair for them to take on debt, unless that’s the only choice. That’s why taking control and grabbing any ‘free money’ is so vitally important. C’mon, we’ve already established that you’re an adult now, right?

F. Start polishing up your best darn self A.S.A.P. Scholarships are not ‘whee it’s raining money’! They are ‘more bang for the buck’. Benefactors are looking for candidates with the best odds. They want people who are going to succeed! That means good grades, extra curriculum, volunteering, doing good deeds…, showing great character! Why waste precious resources on someone who doesn’t fairly shine with wanting to make it happen? Other candidates want it too, so shine baby shine!

G. It’s not too late to shine now. Show improvement wherever you can. If you’ve brought your grades up, show it. If you’ve joined activities, show it. If you’ve turned your life around, show it! If you’ve had some bad breaks but recovered, definitely show it! Letters of reference can help explain changes in behavior and character, illustrating your willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. Whatever the circumstances, do not give up. You may not land any scholarship monies but your future is still your own. Get your degree and make a positive difference in your life.

Yep, you’re an adult now. This is not a pass/fail quiz. Any and all answers are valid because, ready or not, you’ve just entered the ‘real’ world and it really is up to you.

Read more College Financial Aid Advice from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Lyla for making it simple for students to see how they need to take charge of their financial aid for college. Good luck and be sure to check out some of our Easy Scholarships and Scholarships for High School Seniors .

Buying a College Education. It’s as easy as ONE - TWO - THREE.

(by Brent, Hamilton, MI)

Buying a College Education.
It’s as easy as ONE - TWO - THREE.

1. Colleges are organizations that intend teach classes while profiteering. Never forget this.

2. Don’t be fooled by the words Financial Aid. Grants are free, yes, but student loans are NOT and they must be paid in full, even if you later claim bankruptcy! Remember, you’re not entitled to crap.

Step one: Know What You Owe.

(don’t go in stupid, thinking it’s all alright, because it ain’t)

Visit the college’s website, glean all their financial information, do the FAFSA (no matter what your income) and spreadsheet the costs.

Annual tuition: $11,000.00
Room/board: $ 9,000.00
Books: $ 1,000.00
Fees: $ 500.00
Parking: $ 300.00
Misc: $ 1,000.00
Total Annual Cost: $22,800.00

Step two: Count Your Blessings (and avoid student loans).

Tally up your savings, grants and scholarships.

Sell things (example: I sold a comic book collection - realized $2000 - I can buy it back later when I have a real job)

Take a second job (deliver pizza’s for Christ sake - you can make $100+ a weekend - that’s over $5k a year.)

Apply for at least 20 scholarships: assuming that only half will pay out and they will only pay $500 each – GOSH DARN! That’s still FIVE THOUSAND-FRICKEN-DOLLARS!

Don’t forget the military, it pays.

Work during college.


Savings from summer job: $7000.00
Working a second job: $4000.00
Work during college: $3000.00
Grants (not happening): ZERO
Students loans (no thanks): ZERO
Scholarships: $5000.00
Things I sold: $2000.00
Total Income (darn close) $21,000.00

! Sell some more things – get it done !

Step Three: Follow Through (and spend your money wisely).

Do what you like, follow your passion, but before you go, know what your degree will ‘buy’ in the real world. Don’t spend $80,000.00 on an education to make $35K a year as a teacher or as social worker. (God bless the under paid teachers and social workers of this world)

Map out all deadline dates: FAFSA, scholarships, college admittance and enrollment, orientation, housing application, school start date, breaks and end date.

Please note my income in step two - its $14K a year - that’s way below the poverty level. Keep in mind; while everyone else is taking a Spring Break in Daytona or Aspen I’ll be hoofing it around town in my beat-up car delivering pizzas in 30 minutes or less, but don’t fret for me, I know it all comes clean in the end.

During and after all this, live by this rule and you shall rule:

be kind, smart and tough
(apply as needed, no particular order)

PS. Plan on spending 80 – 120 hours per year in college research, scholarship search and financial organization.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Brent for sharing your advice about buying a college education. I like your suggestion to know what it costs and try to not have student loans. Best wishes to you in college.

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