Survival Guide. Losing out on college dollars?-that can make anyone scream.

by Kristin Shifflett
(Alexandria, VA, USA)

Marcus, with just one semester to go until graduation, ran out of the financial means of paying for his college tuition. He decided to drop out for a couple of semesters, raising enough money to complete his degree. This was the beginning of a real life horror story for Marcus. Without a degree, he could only land a job that paid minimum wage. However, with rent and car payments, there was no talk of saving for college. Making matters worse, the college loans were due six months later. Not being able to pay them, his credit rankings tanked. This downhill spiral continued and continued. Unfortunately, he learned the hard way about financial aid and scholarships. However, if he had applied for scholarships and financial aid, none of this would have ever happened. This guide is to demonstrate to incoming college students the importance, as well as the ins and outs of the financial aid process.


First and foremost, let someone help you along the way. Sign up for a scholarship website, one that selects certain scholarships with your matching criteria. Scholarships.com, Fastweb, Cappex, and College Prowler are all recommended. These websites will give you so many scholarship opportunities you will not know what hit you. Don’t let the idea of writing essays give you nightmares-that’s what college is all about! Be sure to get organized and write down all deadlines and forms to complete so it doesn’t pass you by. Organization is one of the key factors to the successfulness of your college trials, as well as college itself!

Also, when you get accepted to certain colleges, check out their offered scholarships. See if you fit their financial aid criteria. You can also set up meetings with their financial aid advisors, who really do care for you and try to help you out. If you’re still in high school, discuss your plans with your guidance counselor because that is what they are there for. They have been through it all, as well as helped hundreds of other students before you. They will give you helpful advice and also help you along the mysterious path that are scholarships.

If you are thinking you are not smart enough, or your grades are not good enough to get scholarships, you could not be more wrong. There are scholarships for practically everything and anything! There are scholarships for short people, left-handed people, people who live in certain areas, and even from certain companies; such as, Walmart and Microsoft. Some unique scholarship opportunities include: a duct tape contest, jiff recipe contest, and even a duck calling contest!

All in all, do not add too much to your plate. Do not wait until you cannot possibly finish, start early, do not procrastinate. If you are confused or worried, ask for help! There are an abundant amount of resources, so use them. In the end, college will be some of the best moments of your life, make sure you can enjoy them!

You miss out on 100% of the scholarships you never apply for.
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 Kristin for your "Survival Guide. Losing out on college dollars?-that can make anyone scream". Yes, there are lots of scholarships for those who plan and apply. Best of luck to you.



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Financial Aid Office Advice

by Ashleigh Ahern
(Davie, Florida)

Avoid Loan Nightmare - I was told by my institution, that taking out additional loans would be the best thing to do as it would keep me from having to pay back my other loans. I was also told to apply for FAFSA as early in the new year as possible as it would allow me the opportunity to receive the maximum award available.

While it is true that Pell Grant awards based on need and you can expect to receive it anytime should you apply for it within the slated time frame. Apparently this is not the case when it comes to other grants such as SEOG, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant or the FSAG Florida State Assistance Grant. While you might indeed be eligible and qualify for this grant, it all comes down to the "Early Bird Getting the Worm" as funds are limited and they give out the money based on a first come, first served basis.

A second thing I was advised on by financial aid office was to search other web-sites such as fast web in order to fill out a personal profile of myself in order to find out what other scholarships I might be eligible to receive. Apparently the site asks many detailed questions to match you and direct you to an appropriate scholarship. As the scholarships are posted you will be alerted as they find ones which match your criteria.

Financial aid office suggested I keep my GPA as high as possible as the school itself offers scholarships to students who show academic achievement within their school.

Financial aid office also asked me where I work to find out if they were offering employee reimbursement plans, as some jobs will reimburse you tuition and in some cases books, if you are following a career path which would benefit the company and give you an opportunity to show long term growth and plan to stay with their company. Financial aid, explained to me that it was a financial investment many companies choose to offer in order to keep from high turn over rate, and in order to prime potential talent.

My financial aid office, suggested that despite my wanting to move out of state to transfer to another college once I have obtained my A.A. degree, is to consider finding a school within my state as I would lose my state scholarship as well as my state tuition. Once you move out of state, the time it takes to prove residency in another state is at least a year. Furthermore, you can be denied new state residency if your only purpose for doing so is in order to lower tuition. If you choose to move to another state, it is best to find at least a part time job while attending school in order to show that school is not the only reason you have decided to move. You should also change your drivers license or state ID within 30 days of moving out of state in order to show honest intentions of becoming that state's newest resident, even if you do not have a car. Voting in that state during elections is also important in terms of local civic duty and justification that you are truly a resident.

Some colleges will waive out of state tuition fee hike ups as a scholarship incentive to students with exceptionally high GPA's.

The last thing financial aid office suggested I do, is to have my mom stop claiming me as her dependent as it takes two years in which to be considered "independent" status once it is filed as such. The advantage to filing as such is to allow me the maximum benefits under financial aid, without being affected by my parents income.

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 Ashleigh for sharing your college financial aid office advice. They are a great resource and can offer many tips. Yes, the early bird gets the worm on many financial aid deals, so apply early. Students wishing to attend out of state colleges should also check into some special out of state Tuition Assistance Programs . Best of luck to you.


More College Financial Aid Advice

Scholarship Money for College | Scholarship Contests | Easy Scholarships | FAFSA | Federal Student Loans | Federal Pell Grants | College Financial Aid Advice

Submit your entry in our College Essay Contest:

To share your entry in our scholarship contest, just click here.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Other College Financial Aid Advice.

Scholarships and Grants for College Tips

by Nicholas McKain
(Orlando, FL, U.S.)

Applying for scholarships and grants may seem overwhelming and unattainable but with the right moves and a little determination, winning a scholarship can go from being unfathomable to very realistic.

First things first, always persevere and be persistent. There are thousands of scholarships out there whether they require a full resume or just a name and phone number, apply for them.

One thing many high school seniors and college freshman do is skip over scholarships because they require a lot of work and that is precisely why you should apply for them. Not only are those scholarships legitimate but the reward is generally larger than average while also having less competition for being “too much work”.

Always remember to just be yourself when applying for scholarships, write what the scholarship asks for, but just be you. In the end you either win it or you don’t all you can do is give it your all.

One good tip for most high school seniors is to apply for scholarships at colleges you’ve applied for during the fall whether you get into them or not. For example if you apply to Duke in October of your senior year, immediately go on the Duke website and look for school scholarships and apply for them. Not only are you getting a head start on your scholarship hunt but most deadlines are between February and March for scholarships which you have now beat by applying in the fall.

All in all: JUST APPLY!


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 Nicholas for sharing your scholarships and grants for college tips. Just apply is some great advice. Check out our Scholarships for High School Seniors and our Scholarship Contests to get started. Good luck to you.



More College Financial Aid Advice

Scholarship Money for College | Scholarship Contests | Easy Scholarships | FAFSA | Federal Student Loans | Federal Pell Grants | College Financial Aid Advice

Submit your entry in our College Essay Contest:

To share your entry in our scholarship contest, just click here.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Other College Financial Aid Advice.


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